Everything I Have Is Yours
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • From New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Henderson comes a turbulent love story meets harrowing medical mystery: the true story of the author’s twenty-year marriage defined by her husband’s chronic illness—and a testament to the endurance of love
Eleanor met Aaron when she was just a teenager and he was working at a local record stored—older, experienced, and irresistibly charming. Escaping the clichés of fleeting young love, their summer romance bloomed into a relationship that survived college and culminated in a marriage and two children. From the outside looking in, their life had all the trappings of what most would consider a success story.
But, as in any marriage, things weren’t always as they seemed. On top of the typical stresses of parenting, money, and work, there were the untended wounds of depression, addiction, and childhood trauma. And then one day, out of nowhere: a rash appeared on Aaron’s arms. Soon, it had morphed into painful lesions covering his body. Eleanor was as baffled as the doctors. There was no obvious diagnosis, let alone a cure. And as years passed and the lesions gave way to Aaron’s increasingly disturbed concerns about the source of his sickness, the husband she loved seemed to unravel before her eyes. A new fissure ruptured in their marriage, and new questions piled onto old ones: Where does physical illness end and mental illness begin? Where does one person end and another begin? And how do we exist alongside someone else’s suffering?
Emotional, intimate, and at times agonizing, Everything I Have Is Yours tells the story of a marriage tested by powerful forces outside both partners’ control. It’s not only a memoir of a wife’s tireless quest to heal her husband, but also one that asks just what it means to accept someone as they are.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Novelist Eleanor Henderson (The Twelve-Mile Straight) subtitled her first memoir “A Marriage” for a reason: This is not a simple love story. When 17-year-old Eleanor met Aaron, he was just the scruffy-cute older guy who worked at the record store. Two decades (and two kids) later, Aaron is suffering from a mysterious, debilitating skin disease that’s causing painful sores and pustules to erupt all over his body. Is his physical illness a manifestation of unresolved childhood trauma and a lifetime of self-medicated psychological turmoil? Or is Aaron’s worsening mental state an understandable reaction to the nonstop physical pain he’s in? Everything I Have Is Yours is both a fascinating medical mystery—absolutely no one can agree on Aaron’s diagnosis—and a heartbreaking memoir of the stresses that illness (and life’s complications in general) can put on a marriage. Tender, emotional, and—fair warning—at times genuinely difficult for the squeamish, this is a relationship memoir like no other we’ve ever read.
Henderson (Ten Thousand Saints) combines a suspenseful medical mystery with rocky romance to chronicle the tumultuous history of her marriage in this surprisingly bland memoir. When her husband, Aaron, became the host for a slew of undiagnosable medical conditions which began in 2011 as a rash, and gave way to skin lesions and severe psychological issues that lasted for years she was forced to contend with two impossible questions: "Are you with the deluded patient? Or the unfeeling doctors?" From here, Henderson jumps through time to depict her and Aaron's beginnings as messy, passionate young lovers in college in the '90s, and, decades later, the trauma and addiction that haunted their relationship and family of four. Throughout, Henderson documents in exhaustive detail her ongoing struggle with her "executively dysfunctional" husband often comparing him to a child his "delusional parasitosis," substance abuse, and the way doctors dismiss his health issues. Though the book is ostensibly about love, Henderson offers few clues as to why she and her husband have stayed together despite the contempt, anger, and betrayal endemic in their relationship. It's a gut-wrenching story, but it's also one without heart.
It started to really drag about 2/3 of the way through. I was ready for it to end a few hundred pages before it did.
Such a good book
I could not put it down. This is a really great book about marriage and commitment, acceptance, love and sacrificing our own, sometimes selfish wants and needs for another/for the common good. Parts of it were not easy to read and I so much wanted it to all resolve. It finally did, but not in the way I expected. Henderson writes with such honesty that allows us to see into her emotional highs and lows in a way that is really special.