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Soar: A Memoir


When Gail Campbell Woolley was seven, a pediatrician told her mother that Gail suffered from sickle cell anemia, a rare blood disease, and that she would be dead by age 35. While others may have responded to this horrifying news by descending into a fog of self-pity, Gail went in the opposite direction. She decided to live an eventful, exciting life that ultimately included―despite a troubled home life and the systemic racism and sexism of the late 20th century―academic success, an impressive career, a long and loving marriage, and the ability to leave her unmistakable stamp on every person she met. By the time she finally succumbed to her disease at age 58 in 2015, she had ground that doctor’s words into dust.

Soar, written in the last two years of her life, is Woolley’s powerfully inspiring story, and its publication checks the last item off her extraordinary bucket list, which also included traveling to every continent except Antarctica.

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