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Buoyant: What Held Us Up When Our Bodies Let Us Down


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“A quietly heroic tale of two women’s voyages through disease and dying, interwoven with voyages upon Chesapeake creeks that offer comfort and grace. Janet, a young mother, had months to live, doctors said in 1989. She and her husband would overcome staggering odds for 20 more years. Author Dotty Holcomb Doherty, afflicted by MS in 2002, became kayak buddy, confidante and biographer to Janet, her account both unsparing and loving. With a naturalist’s eye, she frames their struggles with portraits of Chesapeake seasons, rhythms of migration and tide, the charms of water’s edge. As their bodies betrayed them, the Bay buoyed them as they buoyed one another.”

–Tom Horton

Chesapeake environmentalist, author Turning the Tide; Island Out of Time

"A compellingly engaging celebration of the human spirit in the face of extreme challenges. Told against a backdrop of the beauty of the natural world around us, this book follows the evolution of a friendship that sustained two friends through personal trials they each faced in a gentle but unflinchingly honest way. It celebrates the autonomy of people to choose their personal course through life and avoids the pitfall of being judgmental or preachy. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book."

—Seth A. Morgan, MD

Advocate and Activist for People with Chronic Diseases and Disabilities


"I could not put it down – not because of the events it portrayed, which were more than compelling, but because of the way it moved through time and experience, blending densely poetic prose about birds and marshland and kayaking with brutally honest and explicit descriptions of both Dotty's illness and Janet's. I thought more than once of Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty, but this book could be subtitled, "Beauty and Truth." This is no standard "illness narrative"; it's more like an extended poem on mortality and family life, with the natural world as backdrop. The writing is gorgeous, the emotion genuine and courageous."

–Sue Ellen Thompson

Chesapeake Poet, author of They; The Golden Hour

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