NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Facing death is the hardest thing of all, and Tallu Quinn faces hers in a way that broke and healed my heart. This book is a beautiful tribute to life, to truth, and to love.”—Glennon Doyle, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Untamed
Profound essays on nurturing life while facing a terminal diagnosis, from the dedicated humanitarian and young mother creating “a vibrant legacy for us to hold on to and learn from” (Ann Patchett)
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Kirkus Reviews
“I am holding both my hope and my grief together in the same hands. It is a loose hold, looser than I am accustomed to. My love is so much bigger than me.”
Nonprofit leader and minister Tallu Schuyler Quinn spent her adult life working to alleviate hunger, systemic inequality, and food waste, first as a volunteer throughout the United States and abroad, and then as the founder of the Nashville Food Project, where she supported the vibrant community work of local food justice in Middle Tennessee. That all changed just after her fortieth birthday, when she was diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma, an aggressive form of terminal brain cancer.
In What We Wish Were True, Quinn achingly grapples with the possibility of leaving behind the husband and children she adores, and what it means to live with a terminal diagnosis and still find meaning. “I think about how my purpose may be the same in death as it continues to be in life—surrendering to the hope that our weaknesses can be made strong, that what is broken can be made whole,” she writes.
Through gorgeous prose, Quinn masterfully weaves together the themes of life and death by integrating spiritually nourishing stories about family, identity, vocational call, beloved community, God’s wide welcome, and living with brain cancer. Taken together, these stunning essays are a piercing reminder to cherish each moment, whether heartbreaking or hilarious, and cast loose other concerns.
As a mother, a kindred spirit, and a dear friend, Tallu Schuyler Quinn looks into our eyes with well-earned tears in her own and tells us the bittersweet truth: We are all searching for what has already found us—present and boundless love. This love will deliver us and never let us go.
In this devastating debut memoir, food justice activist Quinn recounts life with an incurable brain cancer. Quinn was diagnosed in 2020 at age 40 and tells of losing her ability to read and her "iconic" blond hair to cancer, meditating on what it means to die and leave behind her husband and two young children: "I am understanding that facing my own death requires an active release and deep letting go of nearly all I hold dearest." Quinn also reflects on her lifetime of activism, beginning with a missionary trip to alleviate food poverty in Nicaragua and culminating in her founding a nonprofit that prepares and distributes meals in Nashville, Tenn.: "For years, I was wrestling with God and with myself about my purpose and place and role, and here it was before me all the while... to grow, to cook, and most important, to share." The author writes movingly and candidly, and her theological reflections exude a deep pathos with the power to move readers to tears: "God is everywhere, for alone is a myth." This exquisite memento mori will speak to those grieving a loss of any kind. Agent: Margaret Riley King, WME.