How to Keep Going When Life Tries to Hold You in Place.

111 People Share Their Stories of Survival, Resilience and Hope Through Hardship.

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How to Keep Going When Life Tries to Stop You.

Julia Rothman and Shaina Feinberg have a bi-weekly illustrated column called Scratch that appears in the Sunday Business section of the New York Times. The column shares the rarely told stories of people and small businesses.

But, when the pandemic hit, businesses got struck hard, and Rothman and Feinberg didn’t know what they could add to the already overflowing reports about lay-offs and closings of iconic businesses and recently opened mom-and-pop’s.


Art by

They were at a loss. What could they offer?

When Feinberg told Rothman a story about how her mom dealt with a cancer diagnosis by making to-do lists (included in the book), Rothman realized that was their next column.

"How We Got By: New Yorkers' Advice for Getting Through a Crisis", became one of their most popular columns.

They realized that, like them, people needed stories about living through hardship, and so they set out to get stories from people they knew, people those people knew, and strangers they met on the street.

They interviewed and drew 111 people. The result is an exquisite book about the universal experience of suffering and how many people faced with trauma, horror, hardship, and grief don’t necessarily “get past it” or “outgrow it,” but they carry it with them, as they live their lives, learning how to tolerate discomfort and uncertainty, without remaining paralyzed forever.

The stories cover a broad range of hardships: from the death of a child to a man who escaped the Syrian army. The moral of every story is this: We all suffer in various ways, but the connective tissue threading humanity together is resilience.


Here is a sneak peek:

CARLA had to fly to a state where abortion was legal in order to get one when she was young. Since then, she’s gone to hundreds of abortion rights rallies. Now when she goes, she wears this sign.


DRAE’s parents and older brother brutally tormented her growing up, so she cleared a secret space in her head for private chats with God to keep herself sane and safe.


DUSTY and DAVID B. lost their son in a biking accident and have learned to live without him, riding each wave of grief every time it appears.

David and Dusty B

IRIS came to America from Belize with her mom as a teenager. She had no friends and wanted to go home, but soon got a job and is now a CEO.

I worked for it, and I’m still working for it. I ain’t giving up.



JJ was born with Radial Aplasia, a congenital condition that affects the formation of bone. His right arm is L shaped and has three fingers on it. I am friends with JJ but didn’t know he was in this book until I opened it.

JJ has endured pokes, prods, stares, and whatnot from others for his entire life. His personality was largely shaped in response to other people’s discomfort.

College was scary because it was thousands of new people who I had to prove myself to. It was a new place where everybody’s feeling each other out. But I wound up being fine. And then, halfway through college, this one-legged kid shows up, and not only was he one-legged, but he was a hunk, and he had lost his leg playing ice hockey. So he’s like a bad-ass one legged hunk, and he took my thunder.



LAURA has been fighting with her body since she was a child. Staring at an almost certain early demise, she turned a corner and learned to love what she once hated.


MICHAEL grew up in a conservative Christian culture that won’t accept his reality: he is a Black man with AIDS.


The death of a friend crystallized how SHONALI wanted to live. She cultivated a community of artists who support one another to honor his memory, creativity, and joy.

Instead of worrying about where they “should be,” they remind each other that the magic happens in the moments they’re creating.


MONTE turns enemies into friends.


This book has stories and lessons for everyone. Plus, it’s empirically gorgeous.

What more could a reader ask for?

And you? How have you gotten through life’s hard times? Let me know in the comments!

Until next week, I will remain…



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