The Story of a Dolphin Trainer, Filmmaker, and Cancer Survivor

Non-Fiction - Memoir
198 Pages
Reviewed on 05/18/2021
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Author Biography

Joy Clausen Soto is the author of the book, "Joy: The story of a dolphin trainer, filmmaker, and cancer survivor." In 2008 she founded the annual Dolphin Interaction Program for patients from Rady Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She is a TEDx speaker, and the director and subject of the documentary “Just One Year –A story of triumph over cancer.” Joy lives in San Diego with her husband and two kids.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite

If there’s ever been a champion of turning lemons into lemonade, it must be Joy Clausen Soto in her unforgettable memoir Joy: The Story of a Dolphin Trainer, Filmmaker, and Cancer Survivor—and now to be added, successful author. “Joy” is aptly titled because it is the emotion that permeates this inspiring self-portrait. We first meet the heroine of the autobiography as, wrapped in a blanket, she is being carried into the emergency room, her life endangered by a seriously low white blood cell count in the midst of her treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Talk about lemons! Then we retreat a few years to the slow evolution of the opening scene. Now we’re in Chicago with Joy training for the swim trial to become a dolphin trainer for SeaWorld San Diego. In practice, she can’t make it holding her breath twice across the pool as required, but she catches a flight and gives it a try anyway and makes it! Thus, off we go into a land of ups and downs that would make any normal human give up numerous times but not this determined young woman named Joy, an emotion she spreads wherever she goes.

Joy: The Story of a Dolphin Trainer, Filmmaker, and Cancer Survivor is one of those transcendent life stories, captured in perfectly placed photographs, that will put a smile on a cynic’s face and a tear in the eye of the hardest of hearts. Joy’s motto comes from her stepmom: “You are exactly where you are supposed to be.” Joy takes looking at the bright side to its outer limits. Whether it’s job pressure, a near-death struggle with cancer, the passing of cherished loved ones, and dating catastrophes, even the uncertainty of bearing children, Joy clings to hope and refuses to surrender. Bald, exhausted, misdiagnosed, a double port in her chest, chemo, and transfusions, yet supported by the love of family, friends, caregivers, music, and indelible faith, she moves ahead. And now she crowns her transformative life journey with this literary jewel. Joy is her name, the name of this brightest of memoirs, and the attitude that pervades every line of her sparkling prose. Put simply and with the greatest enthusiasm, Joy: the Story of a Dolphin Trainer, Filmmaker, and Cancer Survivor by Joy Clausen Soto is a masterpiece of inspiration not to be missed!

Daniel D Staats

Joy Clausen Soto is a miracle. The book, Joy, was written by Joy Clausen Soto about herself and is a compelling read. Joy shares her disappointments and her triumphs. Reading this book will inspire and motivate you. You will journey with Joy through her struggles in life including her life-or-death fight with cancer. You will weep with her as she travels her valleys and rejoice with her as she finds the little victories and wins the war. You will feel her emotions and to a small degree experience her pain. This book is as much or more about her journey than her destination. It is in the journey that life lessons are learned. By choosing your responses to all the obstacles that stack against you, you can be a victor and not a victim.

Joy Clausen Soto opens her heart and soul to the readers of her book, Joy. This is not another book about all an author has endured. This book is a true delight, a great and inspiring story. Joy shares her fight with cancer and her life afterward. When it looks as if nothing will work out, she continues to fight and finds the next step on her path. The ending will have you standing up and cheering. Joy pours her soul into her life story. She writes with humility and openness. She invites her readers into her private struggles and shows that she is human with normal weaknesses and fears. This book will be one of the best books you read this year and maybe in your entire life. Let Joy encourage you and show you how to navigate the path you have been given to live.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Things in life don’t always follow a plan. “The purpose is our journey. We spend so much of our lives worried about our destination, but it’s the journey where you find the beauty in life. It’s the small moments you share with others. It’s the way a kindness can completely change someone’s life.” Joy had a lot of dreams: she studied filmmaking, but couldn’t finish her course; she became a dolphin trainer, but couldn’t continue when life dealt her a deadly blow with cancer; and she had to battle that big ‘C’, the cancer that almost took her life. With a good support system, family and friends, Joy managed to carry on, to find her place in life, and to find her soulmate. As her friend Ann said, “A dream is a wish from the heart, so always follow your dreams.” Joy took these words to heart as a good mantra by which to live life. More words of wisdom came from her stepmother, “You are exactly where you are meant to be.” Life can be a difficult journey, but Joy realized that she was always where she had to be, dreams and all.

Joy Clausen Soto’s memoir, Joy: The Story of a Dolphin Trainer, Filmmaker, and Cancer Survivor, is an inspirational read. Joy shares her story of trials and tribulations and the power of love and resilience that carried her through the toughest times. She tells her story like a story, complete with moving dialogue and descriptive narratives, and even a plot that drives the story forward. She includes photographs taken at various intervals throughout her life as well as quotes from family and friends who supported her throughout her journey. The story is told with compassion, a compelling journey through difficult times. Powerful and full of wisdom. Beautifully told - this young woman's name says it all; "Joy."