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Stations of the Heart

Parting with a Son

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This poignant love story of a father for his son is at once funny, heartbreaking, and hopeful. In it a young man teaches his entire family “a new way to die” with wit, candor, and, always, remarkable grace. This emotionally riveting account probes the heart without sentimentality or self-pity.

As the book opens, Richard Lischer’s son, Adam, calls to tell his father, a professor of divinity at Duke University, that his cancer has returned. Adam is a smart, charismatic young man with a promising law career, and an unlikely candidate for tragedy. That his young wife is pregnant with their first child makes the disease’s return all the more devastating. Despite the crushing magnitude of his diagnosis and the cruel course of the illness, Adam’s growing weakness evokes in him an unexpected strength. 
This is the story of one last summer and the young man who lived it as honestly and faithfully as possible. We meet Adam in many phases of his growing up, but always through the narrow lens of his undying hope, when in the final season of his life he becomes his family’s (and his father’s) spiritual leader. Honest in its every dimension, Stations of the Heart is an unforgettable book about life and death and the terrible blessing of saying good-bye.  

Publishers Weekly Review

Nov 26, 2012 – On April 13, 2005, Lischer, who teaches at Duke Divinity School, received a call from his son, Adam, that no parent ever wants to receive. Adam, a gifted and loving young lawyer whose wife, Jenny, was expecting her child three months later, tells his father that the cancer they all thought was gone has now returned and that it now lives in many of his body's organs. Initially, Lischer is speechless, but his stunned silence soon turns to rage as he wails that his son's death is a robbery. In this tender, searching resigned memoir and tribute to Adam, Lischer relives the final three-month journey that he, his wife, and Jenny traveled with Adam, recalling with grace and humor memories of Adam in his elementary school days, his college days, and his quest to change the world around as a modern-day Atticus Finch in his law career. After Adam's death, Lischer observes that "grief is a series of caves—dark, multiple, and unfathomed. You do not explore them. You fall into them....5 Your world is not as large as it used to be, for a ceiling has been imposed on happiness and the floor occasionally trembles beneath your feet." Walking this journey over again seven years later, Lischer declares that it took him from "the bitter gall of losing Adam to something like settled sorrow," and where he can now say, "He was my son. I give thanks for him."

Customer Reviews

Book review

Fantastic! I want to share it with people I love.


Having lost my husband to cancer five years ago, I read this book, as I have read many others, with tears in my eyes.

Adam's father has given to others, like myself, reason to go on living and with hope abounding, that no one is ever really gone.

Though I only see him now through memory, I know that God holds him in the palm of His hand and one day I shall join him.

Thank you for writing this book and allowing me to share Adam with you.

Stations of the Heart
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Apr 02, 2013
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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