Pretty Is What Changes

A Memoir

Random House, Spiegel & Grau imprint, 2008


Eleven months after her mother succumbs to cancer, Jessica Queller has herself tested for the BRCA “breast cancer” gene mutation.  The results come back positive, putting her at a terrifyingly elevated risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.  Thirty-four, unattached, and yearning for marriage and a family of her own, Queller faces an agonizing choice:  a lifetime of vigilant screenings and a commitment to fight the disease when caught, or its radical alternative that would effectively restore life to her, even as it would challenge her most closely held beliefs about body image, identity and sexuality. 

Pretty Is What Changes tells of how Queller reaches her courageous decision and its physical, emotional and philosophical consequences.  It is also an incredibly moving story of what we inherit from our parents and how we fashion it into the stuff of our own lives, of mothers and daughters and sisters, and of the sisterhood that forms when women are united in battle against a common enemy.

“By turns inspiring, sorrowful and profoundly moving. Queller’s sense of humor and grace transform the most harrowing of situations into a riveting and heartfelt memoir.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Jessica Queller gives us a warm, chilling, unflinching look at her personal journey of survival with style. The ending will surprise you. Her prescience is astounding. Her courage is inspirational. Brava Jessica!”
–Marisa Acocella Marchetto, author of Cancer Vixen
“Jessica Queller examines notions of beauty, sexuality, and identity… personal and moving, but also sharp and funny.”