Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers’ Favorite
Not in the Pink by Tina Martel is the most stunning and unusual memoir I have ever seen or read. Why do I say “seen”? Because when you read Not in the Pink, you actually SEE Tina Martel’s journey from her discovery of breast cancer, through to her chemotherapy and radiation treatments to her questionable recovery from both the physical and mental pain of the entire experience.
The reader sees this journey because Tina Martel is an artist. The page backgrounds of her memoir are paintings and photographs that illustrate what she is saying or describing in the text. Readers find themselves poring over the details in the graphics while they read the words depicting her long and difficult battle with the cancer, the treatment, the meds and, sadly, the attitudes of hospital staff and others along the way. This is not a page-turner in the regular sense of the word because one feels compelled to explore the illustrations before moving on to the next page. The entire concept is brilliant, a visual and writing feast for the eyes that leaves the reader seeing and remembering Not in the Pink long after the reading has ended.
According to an article published in 2014 by the Grand Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune, Tina Martel feels “there are many myths surrounding breast cancer” including that it’s not as difficult as other cancers. Well, she certainly debunks that myth in Not in the Pink. My reaction to what I was reading and after I’d finished was I hope I never have to go through what Tina Martel and so many other women do. There is nothing easy about breast cancer or the treatment of it. As Tina says, “It’s a profound and life-changing experience”. And yet, throughout the memoir, Tina has found moments to laugh at herself and her circumstances and share those with her readers.
I, for one, will never forget Tina Martel and how she has chosen to share her memoir, Not in the Pink. Consider me a lifelong fan of this artist and writer. Bravo!
reviewed by Rich Follett Readers’ Favourite
There are books a reader can settle into and get comfortable with; conversely, there are books masterfully crafted to prevent the reader from being even remotely comfortable. Not in the Pink by Tina Martel is most decidedly the latter, in the best of all possible ways. As its title suggests, Not in the Pink is an unflinching, achingly straightforward chronicle of the author’s journey through diagnosis of, treatment for, and recovery from breast cancer. Throughout the book, text is splayed at grotesque angles across gloriously unsettling images created by the author/artist from photographs, sketches, paintings and mixed-media montages. Unvarnished words come at the reader from all angles; sometimes the path is clear, sometimes not. The visual element of the narrative is stunning, in the truest sense. Martel’s writing has a raw, clinical, sardonic edge completely in keeping with her experience, interpreted as only a true artist can. Presented on their own, Martel’s images would distinguish any gallery; similarly, her words are visceral and chosen with an artist’s precision – together, they are an ekphrastic triumph.
Tina Martel’s Not in the Pink should be mandatory reading for anyone – female or male – whose life journey has been unexpectedly rerouted by breast cancer or any life-threatening illness. Her courage, dark humor, and inconceivable honesty offer those facing cancer and those who will be in support roles a chance to look behind the veil of society’s obligatory platitudes and pep talks and see what they can realistically expect to face in the fight to regain wellness and a semblance of self and normalcy. Not in the Pink is a rare and powerful dose of absolute truth, rendered in wave after wave of sublime verbal and visual artistry.
Review Reader’s Favourite by Faridah Nassozi
Hundreds of thousands of women die from breast cancer every year but there are others who live to tell the tale and, as any of them will tell you, it is the hardest battle they have had to fight. In her book titled Not in the Pink, Tina Martel narrates her battle with breast cancer. For her, this trying journey started at age 54 with a doctor who offered her no explanation and no direction. What followed was a series of frustrating waits, endless tests and doctors’ appointments, gruesome treatments and nasty side effects. Her story shares how the diagnosis changed her life in an instant, her fears and frustrations, and the physical and emotional pain of the process.
Not in the Pink by Tina Martel gave me a detailed and profound look into the gruesome journey that cancer patients travel. The cancer fight is a tough one and not many who survive it have the nerve to share their story, not even with their loved ones. However, Tina Martel managed to share her story in great detail with the whole world and this I found both courageous and admirable. Her story is very enlightening and deeply touching. I loved how she managed to present this compelling story of fear, pain, frustration and courage through her artistic eye. The images that form the background of every page tell a story of what her body and mind went through during this very trying time, from diagnosis all the way through the endless tests and treatments.