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Buzz: An ADHD Mother's Search for Understanding, Patience, and Comic Relief

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  396 ratings  ·  90 reviews
"An absorbing, sharply observed memoir."
--"Kirkus Reviews"
A hilarious and heartrending account of one mother's journey to understand and reconnect with her high-spirited preteen son--a true story sure to beguile parents grappling with a child's bewildering behavior.
Popular literature is filled with the stories of self-sacrificing mothers bravely tending to their challeng
ebook, 304 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Hyperion Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Full disclosure: I have three children (all girls) and none of them have ADD. Which is good, because from Katherine Ellison's description, ADD (especially in boys) absolutely sucks. Absolutely. Sucks.

(In all honesty, I wondered a bit about Ms. Ellison. There is just the merest hint of the unreliable narrator there: I got the slightest soupcon, the tiniest suspicion, that perhaps she is a somewhat inconsistent mother. I do not AT ALL condemn her for her confessed lapses - saying "shut up" and so
I thought this book was awesome - I believe that Ms. Ellison was not just speaking to the issues with which Buzz had to navigate, but how her own distraction was lending to both her problem and Buzz's defiance. I enjoyed the balance between her interpretation of her own actions and gaining insight to how Buzz might feel when he was acting out (the 9-1-1 call to the police comes to mind).

I also found this book to contain a lot of useful information about the variety of treatments and information
I really enjoyed this book! I am a little skeptical of the ADD/ADHD diagnosis, because so many people/children are labeled this way without much evidence to back it up. However, I related to quite a bit of what Ellison had to say. For example, since I made the move from full-time professional mom to stay-at-home-mom, I totally get her analogy of running daily sprints to running a long old marathon. Also, while it seems a little trite and obvious, kids certainly become what they live around. When ...more
"Buzz" is a memoir about how the author, following an escalating family struggle that resulted in her son's complete and utter meltdown, decides to take a year off from other projects and focus solely on understanding him and helping him learn to cope with his ADD - and, not so incidentally, tackle her own struggles with the same disorder. Some of her approaches are well-meant but flawed while others show a great deal of promise, but throughout the process we get to see her learning and growing ...more
I debated giving this 4 stars. Maybe it's more like a 3.5 stars. The reason I didn't rate it higher is maybe more because I identified a little too closely with Ellison. The breakneck pace of her thoughts mirrors mine fairly well, although my ADD doesn't come with the temper impulse control (any more). It made for uncomfortable reading. And a smidgen scary, as I'm not a parent yet and it has definitely crossed my mind that being my scatterbrained self with a child who is equally scatterbrained m ...more
Right after I read this book, I emailed the author and said, "Thank you for putting on paper what I want others to understand about my child." If you have a child with ADHD, ADD, Aspbergers or maybe they are considered an odd duck, read this book.
Marcia Conner
While I appreciated most of Ellison's earlier book The Mommy Brain--this beautifully written memoir made me feel like I was sitting right beside her as she honestly and humorously navigates incredibly difficult terrain. The whole book is very good. The epilogue is great, worth the price of the book just for it's information. Her detailed descriptions of what worked and what didn't work for her and her son (Buzz), is something I've never encountered in all the books about ADHD and attention that ...more
This book is - literally - changing my life. It's so close to my life and so close to much of Eli's life that, at times, I feel really proud of this great memoir I have written and then...I remember that I did not write it. I highly recommend it to any & all. I'd loan you my copy, but then I would have to part with it and stop underlining and crying all over it.
Laura Cordes
Sadly, one of those books I'm never going to finish. I simply couldn't bring myself to care about the woman who spent the first 2 chapters whining that everyone else has better kids. Possibly it gets better later on, but I'm not really willing to spend the time to find out.
This is a terrific book. Funny, honest, clear, Ellison is a great writer who's not afraid to show the dark side of her parenting and the challenges of life with ADD. Highly recommended.
Awesome insight into one woman's search into understanding ADD and her son.
Summer B.
I first heard about Katherine Ellison after reading an article by her in the NYT Well blog about ADHD medication and whether it permanently rewires a child's brain over time. In the bio, it referenced a book she wrote called Buzz, A Year of Paying Attention, and I determined to get my hands on it.

Buzz is the pseudonym she gives her 12 year old son, recently diagnosed with ADHD and struggling in school and at home, and the book is her first person account of raising him, while at the same time th
Beautifully written, brutally honest and self-deprecating, often emotionally raw, this book captures at least a taste of the joys and frustrations of both having ADHD and living with someone who has ADHD. Not to mention the extra dose of additional anguish and maternal angst we mothers tend to feel when we see our children hurting. I saw so much of my son in Buzz.

Besides trying neurofeedback (probably prohibitively expensive for us), my greatest take away as a parent is to slow down and be prese
The stories are interesting, and her perspective is really helpful for understanding the approach that parents of children with ADD sometimes take. Her struggle with whether to medicate her son and her description of alternative treatments were really interesting.

My only gripe with the book is her constant harping on public education as her older son struggles. While she notes that her younger son--without ADD--does well in school and has teachers gushing about his performance, she fails to see
Marjorie Ingall
Thank you, Robin Aronson, for pointing me toward this! I love Ellison's blend of reporting and first-person funny -- she's ike a more rigorous and less jokey Mary Roach. I trust her journalism (hello, Pulitzer) and respect the mix of hope and skepticism with which she approaches her kid's ADHD. Full disclosure, I don't have a child with ADD or ADHD (and I don't have a son) so part of me clings to the idea that some of his behavior was not a clinical disorder but rather the result of him being an ...more
Laura (booksnob)
Katherine Ellison has ADHD and so does her oldest son, Buzz. She is married and extremely busy, disorganized and frazzled like most ADHD moms, me included. Buzz is 12 and is seemingly out of control. He has no friends, he tells his mom he hates her, he constantly picks fights with his younger brother Max. Katherine wonders where she went wrong and how she is going to survive motherhood, as Buzz moves through junior high and high school. So she makes a plan to pay attention to paying attention fo ...more
This is an incredible book. The author, Katherine Ellison, whose son has ADD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and who has been told by others that she may have ADD herself, takes off a whole year from work to try to find the best thing to do in order to cope. She calls her son Buzz for the book in order to protect his identity.
Her son had become impossible to live with, he was having numerous trantrums, abusing his younger brother, demanding expensive toys and clothes, getting into troubl
Literary Mama
"Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention tells the oldest story in the world, a story familiar to anyone who has read the Old Testament, Greek myths, or Shakespeare's tragedies. It's the story of a wayward, willful child and a parent driven to desperation, a story of full-force collision between an older generation's best intentions and a younger generation's intractable resistance.

Katherine Ellison's new memoir, however, takes a distinctly modern turn. Buzz, Ellison's twelve-year-old son (and the wayw
I began to read BUZZ the moment it came in the mail. Well, after I had taken it out of mailman's hand. I had no idea whether the book would make me want to read, read, read or whether the book would make me want to sleep, sleep, sleep. Thankfully, BUZZ BY Katherine Ellison is well written. Although, the subject Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder shortened to ADD is a complicated illness. The book is just the opposite. There are moments throughout the memoir when I laughed, cried, questione ...more
I've had ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) as far back as I can remember, even though I was never officially diagnosed until I was 21. I always assumed -- as did others -- that I was simply forgetful and continually bored. A year after my diagnosis, Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention, opened my eyes to the world of attention deficit with anecdotes I could relate to; like never remembering where you put the car keys and not being able to "tune in" to something someone is saying even though you reall ...more
Jennifer B
Katherine Ellison, after a particularly notable argument with her son, decides to spend a year "paying attention" to his and as well as her own apparent ADHD. She writes of their experiences trying the various alternative and traditional approaches for the clinically distracted- as she calls it. I really enjoyed was being able to read through her accounts of the different approaches they tried for her son "Buzz" and her very direct opinions about how and why they worked or didn't for her family- ...more
Penny Williams
I enjoyed the perspective of this book, the viewpoint of a mother, who is also inherently skeptical as a journalist. Ellison's trials of many ADHD treatments are conveyed to the reader in a real and candid way. She illustrates a mom's humanity and the fact that we're all fallible, and that it's ok.

Penny Williams
Author of "Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD" and "What to Expect When You're Not Expecting ADHD"
One mother's journey to help her teenage son, diagnosed with ADHD, find something that works -- to help him academically, to save her sanity and to foster family peace. Ellison seems to present a balanced and realistic approach to finding solutions, even exploring a number of options too expensive to be used by the average North American. She has a love-hate relationship with ADHD medications, a view which accurately represents the experience of many parents of children with ADHD. Interestingly, ...more
This is the right book at the right time for me -- even so, it is a terrific book. The author is an "old-style" print journalist so everything is meticulously researched. It's also a very personal story as she spends a year plus investigating and trying many different therapies to treat ADD/ADHD for both her and her son -- from drugs to neurofeedback to meditation and others.
Interesting to read even if you don't have any ADD in your life because the subject gets a lot of press and is still not
Don O'goodreader
ADD, ADHD, ODD, a few of the various label applied K-12 students, mostly boys, who have trouble sitting quietly and following the rules. Over the decades, the nature-nurture pendulum has swung back and forth. Today, much like the wave-particle dichotomy of quantum physics, both are simultaneously true and false.

Lots of good information such as the Federal protection for ADD children and the requirements for schools to support them, the generally excellent response to medications with the accompa
Mark Dodson
For someone looking into the pros and cons of various ADHD diagnosis and treatments, this is packed with lots of first-hand research, along with experience in giving many of treatments a try. The willingness of the author to share her personal experiences and those of her family members is admirable. That her son had made some significant progress toward the end was definitely a positive. That said, I’m not sure how to rate it. Probably in the range of 3 to 4, definitely a 4+ for giving a range ...more
The author has a way of writing that makes you feel like you are going through what she is going through. I enjoyed this book because I felt that I wasn't the only parent doubting my parenting abilities amongst the craziness of dealing with a child who has special needs. I have spent so much time telling myself all the mistakes I have made with my son but by the end of the book I felt like I could take the time to look at the good things that I do. I take more time to hug my son and listen to hi ...more
This could be a useful book for a parent of an ADD child -- the author tries almost every treatment option and reports back on what worked. However -- look, I don't want to be snotty, but in my opinion, her kid isn't just suffering from attention disorder, he's also kind of awful. He's not just distracted, he's MEAN: to his parents, to his brother, and to other kids. He reminds me of the boys in my elementary school (all of them, oddly, named "Butch") who made fun of girls and smaller boys, shov ...more
S Kozoh
This is about a mother who tries various things to understand and help her child with ADHD....I read it awhile ago thinking it would help me understand Sean.....and help him...I guess it was okay
Trudy Brown
I enjoyed Katherine Ellison's memoir, though it seemed (to me) a bit less about her journey with Buzz and more about her journey with herself. I also think that some of the treatments she pursues would be out of the question for those without substantial financial means, so they are not really a true option for everyone. Still, I really enjoyed her bringing her journalist's eye to the history of ADHD as well as shedding some light on the labyrinth of treatments and social misunderstanding and st ...more
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Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, former foreign correspondent, writing consultant, and author of four books, including The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes You Smarter. The mother of two sons, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area."
More about Katherine Ellison...
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