Another true story from someone who is neither famous nor a player on the world stage, nor the architect of some planet--changing accomplishment. However she DID go through hell and back, and not only survived but thrived, and lived to tell about it.
This woman has my unconditional admiration. The story has her pushing through obstacle after obstacle, jumping (metaphorically) through hoops and all the while never losing her perspective and sense of humor. Several times I laughed out loud while walking the bike path - other walkers, cyclists, runners must have thought I was nuts.
The gauntlet was thrown down many many times by her doctors and the rest of the medical establishment and she triumphed over that one too - hilariously naming all the characters and courageously ignoring their "advice" (in quotes for this) in order to follow her own path as an overachiever in the best way possible.
The narration was perfect. Joyce Bean's tone walked that fine line between sarcasm and honest emotion, and her nuanced characterization of Julia's impaired but gradually improving speech abilities could not have worked out better.
One more thing, if you've come this far in this review - the book uses the second person throughout, a technique that I am starting to love. Like the airplane pilot in "The Night Strangers" whose story is always a "you" story, 2nd person, this technique makes the narrative sound like an instruction manual, in a good way. After all, books can be, amongst so many other things, instruction manuals for life.
5 stars all around!
I completely agree with all the other enthusiastic reviewers. This book gives and gives and I find myself rereading sections and absorbing more and more.
The ending is climactic, dramatic, like the ending of an opera or symphony, and the narrator is pitch-perfect, striking just the right tone, especially towards the latter half of the book, I guess warming to his subject.
I'm going to look for more from both this writer and narrator.
Oliver Sacks is and has been one of my favorite non-fiction writers. This collection of case studies is very similar in format to "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat", and as such, chronicles many of the possible screw-ups, major and minor, that our beloved brains can devise.
I am neutral on the narration, which was quite good and straightforward, but I think audible should list the other narrator and not bill the book as being thoroughly narrated by Sacks.
I am only giving this book a 4 out of 5 because there did not seem to be enough exploration into the reasons why, or how, some of these cerebral malfunctions develop. For example, on the topic of face blindness, the Heather Sellers memoir "You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know" suggests the possible causes as early life head trauma, or genetic relationship to schizophrenia. On the other hand, Sacks merely mentions one possible developmental detour of the fetal brain. He does not discuss with any thoroughness the circumstances, environmental or genetic, that could lead to these dysfunctions.
Anyway, It's a good listen, and a great fit for anyone who is interested in brain science, brain malfunction and its consequences.
I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South."
During the Great Flu epidemic of WWI, there was an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica —or “sleeping sickness”— that left its victims permanently disabled, a plague of catatonic lethargy. Some people were comatose for years-- and it could recur at any time.
What was it?
This medical-mystery drama, by award-winning reporter Molly Caldwell Crosby, follows the doctors, scientists, and patients of the time as they tried to solve the origins of this disease.
You may remember Oliver Sacks’s "Awakenings" chronicled his work curing the sleeping sickness victim. But science has yet to find the cause of the epidemic, the "why?"
Crosby's book turns a corner in these “sleep” conversations that will have you wide awake to the most chilling prospects yet.