Readers’ Reviews of “Heart’s Oratorio”

The following reviews for Heart’s Oratorio: One Woman’s Journey through Love, Death and Modern Medicine are from Amazon.com

5.0 out of 5 stars Heart’s Oratorio is a beautiful testament of what it means to be human, December 4, 2014  By Patti Kwok

“Heart’s Oratorio is a beautiful testament of what it means to be human. It is a celebration of healing, resurrection and seeing through suffering and adversity to a more resilient way of being. As a health care provider for over thirty years, I am reminded of why I was called to the profession in the first place. Mary’s story is more potent than any medication and more lifesaving than any surgeon’s knife. Her powerful and stunning metaphors bring new meaning to both life and death. It is a mesmerizing book and I couldn’t put it down.”

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, August 30, 2014 By Marcia Schenkel –

“I loved it and have gifted and recommended it to friends.”

5.0 out of 5 stars It reads like both a mystery adventure and a journey of self-discovery, August 29, 2014  By PBS

“Having recently received a diagnosis of HCM when I read Heart’s Oratorio, Mary’s story was very moving and deeply inspiring. It reads like both a mystery adventure and a journey of self-discovery. Mary’s writing style is direct and forthright, and yet lyrical and poetic – flowing with courage, insight, and humor. As she unravels the drama of her journey with this disease, Mary’s intelligence, grace, and tenacity is profound. I will recommend and gift this book to many friends.”

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story of tremendous courage and triumph, August 27, 2014 By Shelby Asch

“I met Mary decades ago, when we were both very young, and only recently had the good fortune to reconnect with her. I had no idea how her life unfolded. On a secluded, pristine beach on the North Shore of Kauai this past week, I read her wondrous, inspiring Heart’s Oratorio. What a journey!

Her writing is beautiful and her luminous spirit shines through every page. I feel so blessed that our lives have touched and that we have reconnected after all these years. This is a story of tremendous courage and triumph, a sparkling, meaningful life of inquiry, depth, and flowering awareness so well lived.

I was powerfully moved again and again while reading it. We are lucky she has shared her life in these pages. Don’t miss it.”

5.0 out of 5 stars Full of grace, August 20, 2014 By MEMcClellan

“At 90, diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, up front and personal with modern medicine in three hospital settings in four weeks, I relate to Mary’s lifelong story, especially these twenty-one years worth. The Heart is the seat of courage. I appreciated her inclusion of Rumi, Levertov, Steiner, Sufi, and myths and more into her whole person experience. Her story and its poetry are full of grace and love of life.”

5.0 out of 5 stars A good book for medical professionals to read, August 12, 2014  By Gario

“What effected me very deeply was the role of the echocardiographers (cardiac ultrasound technicians) in this story. I have been one, and I was upset with the carelessness and lack of compassion of some of these people in their treatment of Mary. I hope that many people who choose a career in the medical field will read this book. We all can be stressed and overworked in these jobs, but we need to remember that we are touching people who are feeling very vulnerable and scared – even if only for a short time – and that that time is a more than just a job. It is a sacred trust that we will be as caring as we can be and present to each individual that we meet. Thank you Mary for your real and heartfelt sharing.”

5.0 out of 5 stars I felt like I was sitting with her and she was revealing …, August 5, 2014, By Lori Salo –

Poignant and beguiling. Oak tells her powerful story in a way that is so intimate. I felt like I was sitting with her and she was revealing her struggles and joys to me.

5.0 out of 5 stars Each time I read from the book , August 5, 2014, By Janet Lia

Each time I read from the book ( and I have picked it up repeatedly) I find new nuggets of insight to guide me through my own health challenges. Not only is this book essential for those learning about the vast knowledge of the heart, but also for anyone dealing with the medical world! Mary has the “biggest heart” of anyone I have known.

4.0 out of 5.0 stars I enjoyed it for two reasons, August 4, 2014, By Marianne Scruggs

I have worked in hospitals in several capacities, and for me this book is one that ought to be read by nursing and medical students, as well as anyone with an interest in sociology, public health, or for that matter any kind of health or social science field. I enjoyed it for two reasons. one, its spiritual (for want of a better word) frame of reference, which is a bit foreign to me, and two, the messiness of human life and diagnosis and treatment in medicine. It reminds me of “The Spirit Catches you and You fall down” in that we don’t all see illness or treatment of it in the same way, and that we need to understand and honor those differences.

5 out of 5 stars The heart articulated- humble, hopeful and wholly present to life!, May 22, 2014 By Victoria Baker

Just finished “Heart’s Oratorio” in less than 24 hours and have already passed it on to a friend and bought another copy to send to a friend who has re-entered her own medical labyrinth after a 10 year respite. I am still absorbing and looking forward to delving more deeply, but just wanted to offer appreciation for the timely “good medicine” in her words. There is so much there, and so much it has brought up for me that I am still processing. Reading this was both very emotional and healing. I feel like I have been through a soul filter of sorts, and really nurtured by the richness of myth and nature, but I also want to cry. I so admire Mary Oak’s ability to be present, surrender and share her journey, her vulnerability and her hope.

5 out of 5 stars Heartfelt journey, May 20, 2014 By R. L. Jones

Mary Oak has woven her story through the turns of her life, bringing us into the world of being a patient with insight and humor. Her courage, patience, persistence, and understanding are admirable. I am reading this book a second time. I loved it.

5.0 out of 5 stars Get Your Yellow Highlighter Ready,

May 16, 2014 By Elizabeth Weber

Before sitting down to read this book make sure you have some uninterrupted time, a box of Kleenex, and a yellow highlighter. Here’s one of my favorite passages that I return to again and again, “In me there lives a pragmatic man trained in observation. He taps his skilled fingers and listens closely…. In me, there is, as well, a devoted woman. She folds her hands in prayer, and sings, praising the unity of all creation. These two share the same bed, household, family. A duality exists between them–his side, her side; contention and struggle as they bump up against each other. But there are moments of deep bow and embrace, the beginnings of a choreography of balance. I honor them both.” And I honor Mary’s heartfelt book!

 

5 stars, Heart’s Oratorio, by Susan Strohm, April 11th, 2014

Mary Oak’s book: What a journey, a life and a death or two… that all came back to the true heart she has .. of compassion and romantic love as well. Her path as a mother and a poet/writer/dancer/wife/lover really touched me in many places. Loved this book!

5 stars, A life-affirming, life changing book, March 16, 2014
By L. St. Pierre –
“This is one of those rare books that reaches deep into who we are: I am a different person after reading it. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, and for having the courage to look so honestly at the state of the Earth.”

5-stars. A powerful and unique medical narrative, March 6, 2014.By B. Josephine Ensign

I love this book because it is beautifully written and tells a powerful and unique medical narrative. I love this book because it helped me to view the medical system from a different perspective.

Mary has died twice in the past decade. The first time she died was in 2007 in the Houston airport while running to catch a connecting flight to Paris. She collapsed in the airport terminal. Otherwise healthy but having asymptomatic ‘athlete’s heart,’ she experienced sudden cardiac death, then was brought back to life through the actions of emergency medical personnel and hospital treatment. Back home in Seattle, Mary underwent two cardiac surgeries at Northwest Hospital. During the second surgery, to implant a cardiac defibrillator, Mary’s heart stopped once again. But that is just the background medical drama of her story. The real story is Mary’s spiritual journey through it all. Mary comes from a long line of homeopath and Christian Science healers and had avoided most all things allopathic. But as she writes, “Nothing like sudden death to invite a different perspective.” Mary’s book is also a love story: her love and care for her children who may have inherited her cardiac condition, as well as her love of David who becomes her husband and cares for her through her illnesses.

Although I neither share Mary’s spiritual beliefs nor her long family history of spiritual healers, I was drawn into a deeper understanding of and respect for them through her story. I can envision using her book in the nursing education that I do. Many parts of Mary’s medical narrative occurred right here in Seattle in hospitals where my students are trained and may eventually work—so it is literally close to home. Mary describes walking past my own university office on her way to find her medical records:

“Then I walk city blocks’ worth of narrow hallways with low ceilings and polished tan vinyl floors. I pass countless numbered doors. Only one is open: to a room of legless and armless dummies on the floor for a CPR training. No one is there. As I walk past various laboratories and offices, I wonder how much debt I will incur with this latest round of medical consultations. Will I live to pay it off?”
 

5 stars  A Treasure Trove of Insight, March 5, 2014
By Theresa McCormick –
“Rating Mary’s book with five stars seems paltry praise for such a powerful life-changing work of art.
She weaves her personal journey through love, death, and modern medicine with threads of golden insight and lines of spiritual inspiration. She’s given us a gift from her heart.”

 

5 Stars A beautifully honest and hope filled book, January 17, 2014, by Jeri E Howe

Mary Oak’s poetic “Heart’s Oratorio” moved me deeply. In Mary’s story she courageously opens her heart both figuratively and literally and thereby reveals the beautiful essence of who she is. Through the telling of her journey she teaches the hope of healing not just for herself but for the world. Her book is a honest story that blooms with the gratitude she has for life. Thank you Mary!

5 stars An amazing journey, powerfully captured, December 2, 2013 By Debbie Moller –

A story for anyone facing the challenges and complications of life, but especially for those struggling with complex medical issues. Mary Oak writes beautifully, and captures the ways ordinary life go on in the midst of extraordinary circumstances. I simply felt better after reading this book, more certain of both the mysteries and the magic that follow all of us in our lives.

5 stars I keep buying, giving, and loaning out this book, November 30, 2013 By Janis Craft

I keep putting this book into others’ hands. It is so powerful and so beautifully written that I can’t help but want to share it with everyone who ponders the mysteries of the heart and the heart of the universal mystery, who faces health challenges and struggles to build a bridge between natural healing and Western medicine, who is inspired by the poetry of daily life, and who sees that the great myths are alive here and now. Heart’s Oratorio poignantly awakens in every reader the desire to grow roots down, down, down to drink from the never-polluted, always overflowing waters that flow at the heart of the world and within every human heart. This book is spiritually cathartic in the best way — unconfined to religion and straight from the heart of the teller.

5 stars Singing Heart, November 6, 2013 By NShama Sterling

In reading Heart’s Oratorio, I realized that I hadn’t been so profoundly impacted by a book in many years. Mary Oak writes exquisitely and gently about her heart’s journey in a way that reaches beyond the events of her life and brings us into the imaginal and liminal realms that touch the world beyond words. This book fairly sings with insightful reflection of her experiences and brings inspiration and beauty to life’s challenges. This is a must-read for those seeking relief from suffering and opening to grace in inexplicable ways.

5 stars spiritual journey, November 4, 2013, by othersay

Dense, thoughtful book about her physical and spiritual journey: i have read it twice! Her language and descriptions are inspiring for all. a wonderful writer!

5 stars  I could not read it all at once, too much for my heart!, November 3, 2013, by Paul Reynolds –

This beautiful tale is scary to read if you also love. The story weaves through risk, and courage, loss and gain, in the passages through illness, near death and recovery, over and over, as Mary and members of her family face their heart’s strength and vulnerability layer after layer. Mary has found the resilience to live where life can not be taken for granted. In sharing her story, the reader is taken on her journey, and has to wonder if they are able to, as gracefully.

 

5 stars The Courageous Heart, November 3, 2013, by KB –

I enjoyed the mythic/poetic nature of the book, the mother’s journey, the search for love etc. But the one piece that I stood in awe of, was Mary’s ability to listen to her inner self and courageously give herself the time to make her informed medical decisions. Presented with a medical crisis, it is so easy to go with whatever medical advice the closest doctor has to give, you just get caught up in the confusing flow. I felt this book was like a beacon; don’t lose yourself, pause and listen, research, get another opinion, things are rarely cut and dried. This is actually not a race but a journey.

 

5 stars could not put it down, November 3, 2013

By Ingrid Wisswaesser

Mary’s story so beautifully written was pulling on my heartstrings throughout the 2 days of reading because I could not put it down.I have reread it again since then continuing to find little jewels in her story that I had missed the first time. A fascinating book written for anyone because it shows so eloquently our human limitations ( doctors and patients a like) and then Mary also shares with us how we can overcome these limitations through unconditional love, our connection to the natural world,feeding our souls with sacred stories while in the meantime attending to a ‘medical physical broken heart’.

I love how she makes these sacred connections to soften the reality of doctor visits, hospital stays,medicine,exams, tests and when she experiences her cardiac arrest. Her writing makes me look at all of life being meaningful and sacred.It lifted my spirits.

 

4 stars mary’s journey, November 3, 2013, by heidi –

mary’s journey is a meandering, intimate pathway through part of her biography, unveiling layers and layers of inner experiences, crucial decisions, roads taken or not. her story grew on me the more i read and it was a compelling story, hard to put down. i cannot be at the airport without remembering her threshold moment and i continue to be intrigued by how much choice we have when we say yes to life!

 

5 stars A gift of the heart, November 3, 2013, by Patti P –

This is truly a magnificent memoir about one women’s story as she dances with death. Written with rare beauty, this book offers deep reflections on our modern culture. What is the nature of healing? How do we find our own way in the harsh, and often cold, technological world of modern medicine? How do we keep our own power while looking death in the face? Ms Oak’s exquisite words, words that emerged from the center of her heart, have special meaning for us all. And when expressed with the razor precision of a poet, they linger in the mind making her penetrating explorations much more than the story of her life. Highly recommended.

5 Stars One Woman’s journey through a Medical Odyssey, October 12, 2013, By CL Nichlas

Mary is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, and finds this diagnosis in stark contrast to her powerful healthful self image. She weaves us artfully through time, as she combines- and sometimes rejects – Western medical theory and treatment, with her study of Eastern philosophy and with the truth she finds within, by listening to her body and by educating herself, to what almost amounts to a medical degree level of knowledge of the human heart.

Mary shares with the reader her very interesting and full life- one she does not intend to give up. Her writing is simple and poetic, every page sings the joy of the details of daily life and of raising a family. Mary does not blame, or despair. She is a very active participant in her own health and advocates despite was has become a maize of myriad professionals, protocols and rules. Some of the doctors she encounters trust her judgment, many do not, some are helpful and some are not, but she works patiently through their process, and even gets an apology from one particularly unhelpful doc as she researches her book for publication.

I myself am not a practitioner of new age or eastern religions, and this book is heavy on those references. The references helped to understand the author’s philosophy and drive- and perhaps her spiritual devotion helps to explain why she does not despair or blame, but works tirelessly for her own survival- and for the survival of her kids- with the aid of and despite the medical and insurance “system” we are lucky and cursed to have.

5 Stars Heart’s Oratorio: One Woman’s Journey through Love, Death, and Modern Medicine, September 19, 2013 By Margaret Green –

This is a beautiful book. Mary Oak invites us into a soul process, showing how physical illness is symbolic as well as genetic, where no experience is rejected or marginalized, where a relationship with a world in crisis is revealed as playing out in all aspects of life. Beautifully written, this book helps us to experience the sacred, even in the high tech medical world, and shows how life and love continue to unfold and to sustain, even amidst crisis. For anyone who has experienced significant illness, or who has supported a loved one through illness, this book will support you in discovering and creating meaning, hope and blessing.

 

5 Stars Heart’s Oratorio: Graceful, Mythical Journey, September 18, 2013, By Mary A Edwards –

Mary Oak’s memoir, Heart’s Oratorio, takes reader’s on a mythical journey as she descends into the darkness of near-death (and frustrations with conflicting diagnoses), and rises to a new life. The title hints at the book’s musicality, an oratorio like Handel’s Messiah, that graces the listener with its poetic rises and falls. Mary’s experiences with a heart condition take her near death and then to new life, though there’s no Hallelujah chorus here. Mary’s writing is more subtle than Handel’s Hallelujah chorus, but she, too, is joyful in her rise. Plan to read this book slowly, giving your senses over to Mary’s mythical images.

 

 5 Stars Beautiful and powerful!, August 10, 2013, By Kim Wetherell

Mary’s book is so incredibly honest, open, fearless and beautiful. I love how it explores practicality and spirituality, combines trust with fear and joins western and alternative ways of healing. What a journey……Thanks for sharing your story Mary!

 

5 Stars A heart opening landscape, August 8, 2013, By Jenny Foster –

I entered Mary’s journey while on a flight to be present for the birth of my first grand nephew. I could not put it down. The beauty and preciousness of life and death, love and truth, and the realization that every moment is a gift penetrated my entire being. Time slowed. The hustle and bustle softened. I read the last page on descent. When I greeted my sister, I knew that I had been changed by this book. All of the silly quarrels or old resentments were simply gone. All that was left was love..truly from the heart. Mary taught me that we have only so much time to offer this love. And it is the most important task of our time.

 

 5 Stars A delicate woven tapestry, by Maria Cristina Fernandez – August 8, 2013

I found the author’s delicacy in the exploration of feelings and emotions juxtaposed with the spiritual dimension of being eloquently done. A woven tapestry of the realms of spiritual and human experience beautifully exposed for the reader to savor and delve into.

5 Stars  Terrifying Journey, July 26, 2013, By Carol Holding

Mary Oak’s Heart’s Oratorio chronicles her terrifying journey through HCM, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a deadly, incurable heart defect. The book is structured by each of her near-death episodes, from the Dallas airport to Seattle to the National Institute of Health, to London where doctors said she’d had a “spurious diagnosis” — and back home, where she started all over again. Oak covers her encounters before and after her diagnosis with spiritual healing traditions from homeopathy, Sufiism, Hinduism, Buddhism, dendrology, Swedenborgian faith, Anthroposophical meditation, and all sorts of esoteric mythologies. To Oak’s credit, nothing slowed me down. I wish she’d spent a bit more time on emotional elements of her life that were happening contemporaneously, like her divorce and her children’s lives – a lot happens very fast! – but I loved how a book about a mortal condition was as exciting as a spy thriller. This is medical narrative at its best and most accessible, and could benefit anyone who’s been through a serious medical crisis.

 

5 Stars Each page packed with depth, July 12, 2013, By Sue “Sue”

What appears to be a simple story has so much depth when you read slowly and from the Heart. A mentor for us all.

5 Stars Hope and Inspiration, May 10, 2013, By Erika Giles

Heart’s Oratorio is a riveting account of Mary Oak’s journey through the darkest moments of life-threatening genetic heart disease and her emergence on the other side not without scars, but with her grace, dignity, and capacity for hope intact. In beautiful language and an appealing voice that allows for no self-pity, Oak adeptly balances medical details, her spiritual practice, and her personal experience. The love and support of her friends, her four children who are at risk for the same condition, and the man who becomes her second husband, shine throughout the narrative. This a great read and a true inspiration for anyone who has faced serious illness or adversity of any kind.

5 Stars An Amazing Journey, April 30, 2013, By Judith Gille

Mary Oak’s new book offers the reader a rare glimpse into the workings of the 
complex world of cardiac medicine. Her journey through death to health is told with elegant prose and life-affirming wisdom. I loved it.

5 Stars Courage, April 22, 2013, By Diann

Heart’s Oratorio is not a story about defeating or banishing fear, it is, in part, a story about facing fear with courage. I can only marvel at how courageously Mary has and is facing her heart’s physical problems while living a full life as a mother, wife, teacher and writer.

5 Stars Journey of Initiation: Mary Oak’s Heart Oratorio, April 14, 2013

By Jesse Hays

From the very first words Mary Oak’s Heart Oratorio found me entranced in the beauty of its prose, entwined with poetry. It is a finely woven tapestry, between biography, mythology and spiritual quest, that brings the reader to full attention, suspended between the delicacy of Mary’s words, the sounds they elicit, and the images conjured. I was moved by the profound grace with which the author faces and narrates her own near death experience, wherein she finds a key to a transformation that brings us all more holistically to approach our own journey. Mary’s use of story, metaphor and symbol throughout the book was not only a source of deep inspiration to me, but one that I will go back to in my own path, making this book a cherished, ear-marked friend.

5 Stars Heart’s Oratorio by Mary Oak, March 29, 2013, By Celia Candlin

The power, rhythm, and sheer beauty of Mary Oak’s writing draws us in with the urgency of a current. In a sudden terrifying acceleration of pace, we find ourselves journeying with the author dueling with Death. Our own hearts pound, not as voyeurs but fellow-travelers. Moved, honored and inspired by this sharing of her ordeal, so deeply personal and archetypal, we too are transformed. Wisdom, tenderness, practicality, passion and delicacy permeate these pages. While, grim, conflicting medical diagnoses demand choices which impact survival, the realities of daily life continue: mothering 4 children, work, a failing marriage and new Love.

Poetry and mythic dimension enrich this offering, fruit of the ordeal, as we readers receive the insights born of struggle. Courage to live Life to its fullest, while facing near annihilation, expresses the triumph of the human heart. This truly is a Hearts Oratorio – a deeply human, spiritual and transformative book.

5 Stars Heart-Lifting Memoir, March 28, 2013, By Cynthia

Heart’s Oratorio is a journey of love and is hard to put down. Mary Oak shares the story of her life and near-death experience while living with heart disease. What a treasure to read about the travails of a medical condition from a multi-faceted view. The body is more than a vessel, the heart is more than a pump. Mary Oak takes us on an adventure that is harrowing, uplifting, frightening, courageous, and ultimately, universal. Her insights and poetic phrasing can be breathtaking. This book is a must-read for anyone in the process of dying…which is everyone.

5 Stars Leading with Heart, March 14, 2013, By Fiona Gold

What a wonderful contribution to the world of modern health care! As a nurse what an honour to follow Mary Oak’s epic journey of heart. She touches on the universal double life we all lead and weaves her very intentional heart’s rhythm between the tangible and the intangible, the spirit and the body, the past, the present and what is to come. May we all step into the future and follow our star with such courage! An inspiring read!

5 Stars Memoir Dreaming, March 5, 2013, By Renée Coleman

Setting down Heart’s Oratorio this morning was like waking from a night of deep, dreaming sleep. More than mere memoir, Mary Oak has woven a delicately beautiful tapestry, softly woolen and warm to the touch. Memoir Dreaming. It has been said that “what is most personal is most universal.” And though very few of us can say that we’ve experienced anything along the likes of what Mary Oak creates for us in her Heart’s Oratorio: One Woman’s Journey through Love, Death, and Modern Medicine, the magic and tenderness and delicacy with which Mary manages her oh so personal material allows us safe passage, not as gawkers or passive observers but as fully engaged fellow travellers, making her journey toward courage somehow our own, and awakening in us the need for unflinchingly honest engagement with our own living bodies and the heart as an organ of perception.

5 Stars Song of Extremes, March 3, 2013, By Karen K. Lewis

Part adventure memoir, part love song, this story invites the reader to dwell in deep, terrifying, and ultimately healing realms. HEART’S ORATORIO draws readers into a sacred and intimate journey that involves motherhood, love, medicine and courage. Mary Oak has been where most prefer not to tread, and has created a unique language to describe her journeys. If and when/ever called to corridors where body and spirit must heal–or die in the process–this journal is and would be a most welcome companion. I now set aside these pages, head into the garden to bury my hands in the soil and give thanks for this precious day. Thank you, Mary, for your reminder @ how fragile, deep and precious these molecules of body and spirit and human companionship: are.

5 Stars “Oratorio’s ” Melodies, February 24, 2013, By Betsy Weill

Mary Oak’s book is a beautifully spoken journey. Besides a well told story, her book is filled with phrases that melt on your tongue and follow you around for hours after reading them.

She weaves a story of the dilemma between sprit and matter, between fear and love, and ultimately of acceptance, humor, grit and clear-sighted hope. It is a book that begs to be re-read and treasured.

5 Stars Heart Consciousness, February 21, 2013, By Brian G

Heart’s Oratorio is a beautifully crafted, poetic, and moving book. But what makes it unique is the consciousness it invites us to partake in – empathy with the world and with ourselves, openness to ways of being and perceptions that are not our own, courage for truth no matter where it leads. Mary Oak brings us to her threshold where brain-science meets heart-conscience and creates equipoise where both have their rightful expression. Yes, it’s a story about a woman’s path through illness – and a cracking good one, if that’s the right way to put it – but that’s not all. The book is about a new unfolding heart consciousness, not only in Mary Oak but also in the reader who gives himself over to following where she leads.

5 Stars An Ode to Grace, February 6, 2013, By J. H. Turner

Mary Oak’s memoir, “The Heart’s Oratorio,” is a study into the “science of suffering.” As Oak encounters her internal pump through cardiac arrest and medical imaging that shows imperfections, but then again shows she is free of defect, she moves “from timidity to voice.” And her voice is poetic, like that of Denise Levertov, a poet whose grave is near Oak’s hospitals and home in Seattle. One of Levertov’s writings, “A Tree Telling of Orpheus,” describes spiritual growth as a tree that changes when it hears the music of Orpheus. And for Oak, the waiting rooms, hospital gowns, numbing anesthesia, insertion of an ICD (implantable cardiac defibrillator) and a beloved’s hand on a forehead bring Oak’s growth forth, along with a greater worry: that her four children have genetically been handed the same imperfect tendency.

It is a rare book that tenderly unveils a medical condition, divorce, and new love all with softness and polish. As Oak says in a poem titled, “Ode to My Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator,” “if I need you, may I move from gripe to gracing you.” Clearly, Oak has achieved grace with her “bionic bond.”

5 Stars Beautifully Written, February 6, 2013, By Janis

“Heart’s Oratorio” is a beautifully written, lyrical and poetic memoir chronicling the author’s journey, both physically and spiritually, through the complexities of illness. Her heroic and intelligent approach to dealing with her disease is inspiring. I could not put the book down! I was drawn in, as you will be, from the first moment, feeling as though I was sharing IN the moment; a sense that continues throughout the book. I finished it yesterday, I think I will start it again tomorrow!

5 Stars An Amazing Book, February 2, 2013, By Emily

Mary Oak’s book is a must-read for anyone dealing with a life-threatening illness either personally or with a loved one. Her recount of her journey with heart disease is beautifully written and inspiring. I was drawn into Mary’s story so much that I could not put the book down. I highly recommend it.