Everything Happens for a Reason - Kate Bowler

Everything Happens for a Reason

By Kate Bowler

  • Release Date: 2018-02-06
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4
From 190 Ratings


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A meditation on sense-making when there’s no sense to be made, on letting go when we can’t hold on, and on being unafraid even when we’re terrified.”—Lucy Kalanithi

“Belongs on the shelf alongside other terrific books about this difficult subject, like Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air and Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal.”—Bill Gates


Kate Bowler is a professor at Duke Divinity School with a modest Christian upbringing, but she specializes in the study of the prosperity gospel, a creed that sees fortune as a blessing from God and misfortune as a mark of God’s disapproval. At thirty-five, everything in her life seems to point toward “blessing.” She is thriving in her job, married to her high school sweetheart, and loves life with her newborn son.

Then she is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.

The prospect of her own mortality forces Kate to realize that she has been tacitly subscribing to the prosperity gospel, living with the conviction that she can control the shape of her life with “a surge of determination.” Even as this type of Christianity celebrates the American can-do spirit, it implies that if you “can’t do” and succumb to illness or misfortune, you are a failure. Kate is very sick, and no amount of positive thinking will shrink her tumors. What does it mean to die, she wonders, in a society that insists everything happens for a reason? Kate is stripped of this certainty only to discover that without it, life is hard but beautiful in a way it never has been before.

Frank and funny, dark and wise, Kate Bowler pulls the reader deeply into her life in an account she populates affectionately with a colorful, often hilarious retinue of friends, mega-church preachers, relatives, and doctors. Everything Happens for a Reason tells her story, offering up her irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live.

Praise for Everything Happens for a Reason
“I fell hard and fast for Kate Bowler. Her writing is naked, elegant, and gripping—she’s like a Christian Joan Didion. I left Kate’s story feeling more present, more grateful, and a hell of a lot less alone. And what else is art for?”—Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Love Warrior and president of Together Rising


  • Disappointing

    By c.book.review
    I was hoping for something insightful or thoughtful. I felt it was neither. Glad other people enjoyed it but I felt like I was listening to someone complain, hoping for a point or conclusion that never arrived.
  • Compelling & Raw

    By JackyFisher
    This book gave me insight to the other side of a life coin I’ve never dealt with. It’s insightful, & every bit of of a ‘how to’ & ‘why’ as much as it is a ‘don’t even’ & ‘how come’ guide. Thanks for sharing your life, Kate. Many prayers for & your amazing crew❤️❤️🙏🏼🙏🏼🐾🐾
  • The lies I’ve loved

    By drhicky3
    The lies I’ve loved have been revealed. As a family medicine doctor who has been there through the pain, death and grief of parents, other family, many patients and friends I thank you for speaking to many of my thoughts and fears. I’ll continue to perfect the joy of living NOW. R. Hickson, MD
  • Thanks

    By CreekNine
    Thanks for your honesty.
  • Honest. Raw. Heartbreaking. Hilarious.

    By HawaiiNatalie
    Vulnerable, honest, often hilarious and “respectfully irreverent,” the author’s description of the absurdity of living inside of loss and grief touched the most human part of my own brittle soul. Over and over, I found myself earnestly nodding along, as I wiped hot tears from my snotty face. It’s a miraculous thing to hear a stranger’s story and to suddenly feel seen, understood and lifted .... even as you float along, a million miles away, doing your very best not to drown inside your own.
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  • Poignant, funny and heart breaking

    By B & The Makegood
    What a beautiful book. The journey and perspective on every page give the author’s life, all of our lives really, such depth and dimension. My life was enriched by it.