Reviews for “The Upside of Down”

Susan Biggar was less than vaguely prepared for motherhood. When it came early, her son was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. As maternal instincts kicked in, so did a steep learning curve on chronic disease and a whole new relationship with the medical profession. Biggar’s narrative steps neatly away from cloying sentimentality or the maudlin. She’s a practical American who married a New Zealander and came to live all over the world – complete with two children with CF. She tell tales of medical systems and doctors, of happy, growing offspring, and of her ability to keep her faith, despite noxious responses from fellow church-members when she terminates a CF pregnancy. It is a very different memoir which points out that no one quite knows the way life will turn out. Four stars.

— Samela Harris, The Advertiser, 20 September 2014


According to the author, living with cystic fibrosis is like living with an earthquake, never knowing when the condition is about to erupt. Biggar uses the comparison with experience of both living near California’s San Andreas fault and the battle her family has fought with two of her children dealing with the effects of the debilitating illness. “From the outside we look reasonably normal … underneath our family’s little world the ground rumbles and shakes, occasionally shocking us with its force,’ she says of her battle to tame the problem. Based on her traumatic experiences, now Melbourne-based Biggar advocates a more patient-centred health system after feeling “powerless and frustrated”.

— Martin Stevenson, The Examiner, 20 September 2014


Absolutely splendid read! The world is a better place with this story told. I have known the author, Sue, since she was a teenager… a beautiful combination of gritty competitiveness and a deep concern for others. She is always at her best when faced with multiple challenges which have been the reality of her whole adult life. The book reveals the amazing depth of her inner strength and the steadfast way she passes that on, not only to her children, but to family, friends, colleagues, teammates, and all of us. It also tells the story of her relationship with her husband, proving not only do opposites attract, but with hard work and determination, they can become a great team, and create a great family. Team Biggar is a living tonic for all aching souls!

on June 21, 2015 (


I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so much so that I had an ongoing debate with myself. Should I savor it and read it a chapter or so at a time or just gorge myself on it and read it all in one go?!? I so wanted to savor it, but couldn’t put it down! Her honesty and humor make this story very relatable even if you have never heard of CF before. As a mother, wife, sister, friend, I found many instances in this book which really struck a chord with me. Would love to read more!

on October 28, 2014 (


This is a lovely book, so easy to read and such an endearing and honest view into ordinary, but amazing lives. This family lives life with realism, humour, honesty and equanimity – really making a triumph of what, to most, would seem a tough hand of cards. At the same time experiencing a very normal, slightly tumultuous, daily life in many contrasting places. It offers some great insights into the benefits and drawbacks of healthcare approaches in different countries – and the consumer experience. Unforgettable reflections on French hospitals!. It creates a great sense of place across the globe. Travel, healthcare in exotic locales, and adventure rolled into one! It’s a beautiful book. Read it now.

–Sally (


When life served this family lemons, they went right ahead and made lemonade. I read it in 2 days and had a happy tear running down my cheek as I turned the last page.  As a parents, we all want so much for our families and children, and this story demonstrates the power of unconditional love.
It is both a great read, and a great reminder. People with chronic illness have a whole-lotta-living to do.
As a health professional, I shall never underestimate the influence of family on health outcomes. This writer has addressed serious issues that need to be discussed in health care with humour and humility.

on September 10, 2014 (


This book is a wonderfully personal and intimate insight into a family with significant life challenges. While many will not share the same challenges most will identify with the book because ultimately it is an inspiring book about life, and choosing to live it to the full under difficult circumstances – although Susan will say she had no choice. A wonderful window into the experiences and emotions of a wonderful mother and family caring for her sons, with and without chronic illness. A truly beautiful read that will touch your heart, and may change your life.

–Ross (


Beautifully written and important.