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Kick-Ass Kinda Girl: A Memoir of Life, Love and Caregiving

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When her husband, Don, called on his way to the hospital, Kathi Koll had no idea how dramatically their lives would change--or how her loving heart and indomitable spirit would fight it. From childhood, her life might have seemed charmed: play dates with Lucie Arnaz, real dates with a future TV idol, and a big brother engaged to film star Dolores Hart. But behind the scenes When her husband, Don, called on his way to the hospital, Kathi Koll had no idea how dramatically their lives would change--or how her loving heart and indomitable spirit would fight it. From childhood, her life might have seemed charmed: play dates with Lucie Arnaz, real dates with a future TV idol, and a big brother engaged to film star Dolores Hart. But behind the scenes, her role as a caregiver began early. A mother dying of cancer, a father battling alcoholism, a brother with a debilitating disease, and a painful divorce threatened to tear her world apart. But then Kathi found Don Koll--her "knight." Like living a movie script, Don and Kathi sailed to far off places, solved a carjacking, and cracked jokes with the president. Their joie de vivre and unstoppable moxie made everything feel possible. Until Don woke up "locked in" after his catastrophic stroke. With unflinching honesty and humor, Kathi shares the realities of a life in uncharted territory as a full-time caregiver, from turning her home into a mobile hospital to the complications of intimacy. Her ability to share sorrows while laughing at herself helped her find a New Normal where she and Don could live each day to its fullest. Her journey, steeped in the joy of living in the moment, teaches us what it means to never lose hope for tomorrow--at the best of times and under the worst of circumstances.


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When her husband, Don, called on his way to the hospital, Kathi Koll had no idea how dramatically their lives would change--or how her loving heart and indomitable spirit would fight it. From childhood, her life might have seemed charmed: play dates with Lucie Arnaz, real dates with a future TV idol, and a big brother engaged to film star Dolores Hart. But behind the scenes When her husband, Don, called on his way to the hospital, Kathi Koll had no idea how dramatically their lives would change--or how her loving heart and indomitable spirit would fight it. From childhood, her life might have seemed charmed: play dates with Lucie Arnaz, real dates with a future TV idol, and a big brother engaged to film star Dolores Hart. But behind the scenes, her role as a caregiver began early. A mother dying of cancer, a father battling alcoholism, a brother with a debilitating disease, and a painful divorce threatened to tear her world apart. But then Kathi found Don Koll--her "knight." Like living a movie script, Don and Kathi sailed to far off places, solved a carjacking, and cracked jokes with the president. Their joie de vivre and unstoppable moxie made everything feel possible. Until Don woke up "locked in" after his catastrophic stroke. With unflinching honesty and humor, Kathi shares the realities of a life in uncharted territory as a full-time caregiver, from turning her home into a mobile hospital to the complications of intimacy. Her ability to share sorrows while laughing at herself helped her find a New Normal where she and Don could live each day to its fullest. Her journey, steeped in the joy of living in the moment, teaches us what it means to never lose hope for tomorrow--at the best of times and under the worst of circumstances.

30 review for Kick-Ass Kinda Girl: A Memoir of Life, Love and Caregiving

  1. 5 out of 5

    Regina

    It wasn't a well written book and the name dropping was a bit much. The saddest part of the book for me was when her brother passed away. Yes, Kathi suffered tremendous loss, however, their wealth helped ease some of the burden. It wasn't a well written book and the name dropping was a bit much. The saddest part of the book for me was when her brother passed away. Yes, Kathi suffered tremendous loss, however, their wealth helped ease some of the burden.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    When Kathi Koll's husband, Don, becomes "locked in" after a catastrophic stroke, their lives change drastically overnight with Kathi becoming his full-time caregiver. The heart of Kick-Ass Kinda Girl is the author's love story, just like a fairytale, but her prince falls ill and their happily-ever-after becomes a caregiving tale of resilience, strength and hope despite facing unbelievable challenges and heartbreak. The book is peppered with cameos from Hollywood stars, presidents, even a prioress When Kathi Koll's husband, Don, becomes "locked in" after a catastrophic stroke, their lives change drastically overnight with Kathi becoming his full-time caregiver. The heart of Kick-Ass Kinda Girl is the author's love story, just like a fairytale, but her prince falls ill and their happily-ever-after becomes a caregiving tale of resilience, strength and hope despite facing unbelievable challenges and heartbreak. The book is peppered with cameos from Hollywood stars, presidents, even a prioress and adventures pre- and post-stroke, making it an absorbing read. I was struck by Koll's candor, raw reflections and humor looking back on her life, which made her very real and relatable. You may not know Kathi Koll personally but you sure as heck want to call her up so she can give you a pep talk when you are feeling down and discouraged. Both my parents suffered from severe strokes. My father survived, my mother did not. I wish I had read Koll's book prior to my mother's death but it has given me a new perspective on how to better help my father and to personally cope with the challenges. No matter what the disability, or economic situation, this book offers a bright light for what can be a dark path. Kick-Ass Kinda Girl is a remarkably illuminating memoir of love and caregiving that anyone who has been touched by family illness should read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I really liked this book, which seems a strange thing to say considering it is the story of someone's struggle, pain & triumph. However, Kathi Koll does a wonderful job of letting the reader into her world and all its ups and downs. At one point I did feel like it wasn't a realistic picture of a caretaker due to the obvious wealth she and her second husband, Don Koll possessed. However, no amount of wealth could prepare her for the heartache she experienced at various times throughout her life. I really liked this book, which seems a strange thing to say considering it is the story of someone's struggle, pain & triumph. However, Kathi Koll does a wonderful job of letting the reader into her world and all its ups and downs. At one point I did feel like it wasn't a realistic picture of a caretaker due to the obvious wealth she and her second husband, Don Koll possessed. However, no amount of wealth could prepare her for the heartache she experienced at various times throughout her life. If anything, it provided her with choices that others in similar situation would not have the option to make. Still; choices and emotions are not closely related in this heart-wrenching story. This book is true to its title "Kick-Ass Kinda Girl". Kathi does have a 'kick-ass' spirit. I admire that about anyone, particularly a woman!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Josephine

    To be honest, I picked this one up on a whim while visiting my local bookshop, and I had never heard of it. I had never heard the name Kathi Koll or Don Koll. But after reading Kathi’s words and learning about what she experienced, I feel like I know her. Her compassion is limitless, and her courage is outstanding as she navigated the journey of the unexpected illness of the love of her life, Don. This is a good read for anyone living through a medical crisis and who has been thrust into the car To be honest, I picked this one up on a whim while visiting my local bookshop, and I had never heard of it. I had never heard the name Kathi Koll or Don Koll. But after reading Kathi’s words and learning about what she experienced, I feel like I know her. Her compassion is limitless, and her courage is outstanding as she navigated the journey of the unexpected illness of the love of her life, Don. This is a good read for anyone living through a medical crisis and who has been thrust into the caregiver role, or those who are supporting a caregiver.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brittiny

    I received this as the winner of the Goodreads giveaway back in September. I finally got a chance to read it. I couldn't put it down. Inspiring in so many ways, I teared up at times, and gushed to my best friend about it. It's given me a new lust for life. I received this as the winner of the Goodreads giveaway back in September. I finally got a chance to read it. I couldn't put it down. Inspiring in so many ways, I teared up at times, and gushed to my best friend about it. It's given me a new lust for life.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

    This was either the worst book to read or the best fit book for right now. There were good nuggets of wisdom to grieve and cope with the loss of a loved one, some that I could have done without. Overall, I did walk away feeling a sense of hope and promise after many hard emotions and discussions.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I wasn’t sure what Kick-Ass Kinda girl was about but was attracted to the cover. I started reading it and couldn’t put it down. Kathi Koll made me laugh and cry. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting story about life’s ups and downs and a true story of survival.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erika Kraus

    I won this book in the goodreads giveaway! Kathi Koll took me through many emotions of sorrow and happiness while also helping me reflect on the positives and hardships of my own life. I am obsessed with Koll's writing style and look forward to reading more from her! I won this book in the goodreads giveaway! Kathi Koll took me through many emotions of sorrow and happiness while also helping me reflect on the positives and hardships of my own life. I am obsessed with Koll's writing style and look forward to reading more from her!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Johnson

    Must read. A great reminder on how to live your best life. The story is honest, funny, enlightening, brave, and more. Be prepared to have your heart touched and to look at things a little differently afterwards.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    An honest portrayel of a life full of ups and downs but Kathi Koll inspires us to power through the downs and live life to its fullest. A truly heart-felt book full of raw emotion, humor and love.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Suzie Bolks

    This was an amazing book and for anybody who has not read it, I recommend it being one of the best books I have ever read! I will definitely read this again!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stryder

    This is an amazing story of "never throwing in the towel". On the outside Kathi lead a picturesque life; but hers had an underlying layer of hardship, that even as a small child, she learned to care for family members and eventually her husband. Always giving more of herself, than she took, she accepted the challenges life threw at her. A inspiring read, for anyone. This is an amazing story of "never throwing in the towel". On the outside Kathi lead a picturesque life; but hers had an underlying layer of hardship, that even as a small child, she learned to care for family members and eventually her husband. Always giving more of herself, than she took, she accepted the challenges life threw at her. A inspiring read, for anyone.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amy Gibson

  15. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

  16. 5 out of 5

    Beth Loflin

  17. 4 out of 5

    Susan Mwaura

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Corissa

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Kilen

  23. 5 out of 5

    Janice

  24. 5 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Girl Plus Book

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Jones

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Best

  28. 4 out of 5

    Judy Ryan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Deborah R. Bowers

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mikaela Zook

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