First of all, let me just say that the cover art on this book is gorgeous.
As for the book itself, a wide range of adjectives come to mind describing...moreFirst of all, let me just say that the cover art on this book is gorgeous.
As for the book itself, a wide range of adjectives come to mind describing my reactions and impressions of this memoir: brave, compelling, twisting, repelling, erotically charged, repulsive, manipulative, raw, confusing (pushing & pulling emotions), difficult, powerful ...
The author really describes perfectly what it might be like as a child growing in an abusive relationship with a father-like, caring, trusting, affirming, sexually abusive person. The confusing reality of this kind of long-term thing where the victim feels protective, protected, cared for, and devoted to their abuser, is really clear. I felt sympathetic towards the abuser at times, repulsed at times; sympathetic towards the victim at times, sometimes angry and repulsed by her behavior; and it all brings up questions in one's self as to why these emotions are experienced when reading about something that is supposed to be responded to with ONLY disgust and condemnation toward the abuser. It think the real genius of this work is how the author pulls the reader into her world & her wavering, back-&-forth emotions throughout the 14 years that she was involved with her abuser.
It's like finally being able to say, "Ah. I see." when you've only been able to say, "How could this have happened, how could this be?"(less)
This was a really insightful, well-written memoir by the daughter of Anne Sexton. She really explains how depression, manic periods, and suicidal thou...moreThis was a really insightful, well-written memoir by the daughter of Anne Sexton. She really explains how depression, manic periods, and suicidal thoughts can run one's life, and how they feel. The last book that really illustrated with words what depression is like was Elizabeth Wurtzel's "Prozac Nation". I commend Linda Gray Sexton on this momentous work, in which she weaves her own and her mother's lifetimes together, and then carefully pulls the strands apart so that Linda can live her own life and not succumb to her family's "legacy of suicide". She also explains really well the emotions/reactions/perceived emotions, etc. of family members and friends who are close to someone who self-mutilates or has had suicide attempts. Again, really insightful. (less)
So I'm glad I finally "read" this book, especially after hearing all about what a terrible parent Amy Chua is. Ultimately, this book pissed me off. A...moreSo I'm glad I finally "read" this book, especially after hearing all about what a terrible parent Amy Chua is. Ultimately, this book pissed me off. A lot. Amy Chua reads the audiobook herself (which seems appropriate) and her unapologetic descriptions of the terrible things she said to her children, in the snobby know-it-all tone she takes, is just mind-blowingly anger-inducing. I don't agree with anything she did, and I don't get why her husband allowed some of the extremes to occur, I mean, parenting when there are two parents should be a team activity, so I'd be interested to hear his input. And I really never got any more from Chua than she was really doing all the shit she was doing for her own bragging rights. I just can't honestly believe she was doing this and treating her daughters the way she did for "their own good". Also, I don't like the ignorant bashing and sweeping generalizations about "Western parents" or "Chinese parents". She may know more about the Chinese way, but I think she even generalized there, a lot. And I know she makes her definitions at the start of the book, but still.
I don't know. I'm not a parent, nor do I ever want to be, but I was a kid, and treatment like this from a mom would've just been intolerable for me. Maybe her kids benefited or liked it or something ... I can't pretend to speak for them, but if I were Lulu, especially, I'd have some serious mommy-issues. (less)
Great book! The author is just hilarious! I never knew "scrupulosity" was a thing until this book -- I wonder how many people have this form of OCD .....moreGreat book! The author is just hilarious! I never knew "scrupulosity" was a thing until this book -- I wonder how many people have this form of OCD ... (less)
This was a gripping, fascinating, and horrifying memoir about the mysteries the brain keeps hidden from us, even now, in the age of neurosurgeons and...moreThis was a gripping, fascinating, and horrifying memoir about the mysteries the brain keeps hidden from us, even now, in the age of neurosurgeons and neurologists. The brain is truly one of the greatest puzzles, I believe, and so so integral to our very existence, that any "malfunction" can be the end of us, though sometimes, the seeming "end" is someone aware and listening, but trapped in their body, unable to react, or trapped by mad-firing circuitry making it appear that psychosis has set in, and the person has no hope but a lifelong stay in an asylum. This story is about a woman who, at the age of 24, experiences a very rare autoimmune disease in which the brain becomes inflamed on one side, called NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis. The trials this one person went through for a doctor on the level of Dr. House (from the show) steeped in the awareness medical mysteries, to finally "figure it out" in the nick of time, as it turns out. The fact that Susannah Cahalan is a journalist for The New York Post, and completely FINE, and suddenly appears to have a mental breakdown or a schizophrenic episode, or a reveal of epileptic seizures, or a complete regression of mental fortitude to someone very handicapped, and who has to research HERSELF (video monitors, doctor patient files and notes, parent's journals and family interviews) simply to find out what she was like during this time, because she has no memory of it, makes the memoir even more gripping, and like we're experiencing everything anew and scary, all through her eyes.
I believe the greatest impression I came away with from this book is that fact that we know so horrifyingly little about our own brains, our own "operating systems." Somewhat like our very limited knowledge of space and dark matter, or the deepest places in the ocean, such as the Marianas Trench.
One quote: p. 187 -- "Despite my attempts at seeming blithe and careless, I was hyperattuned to the different ways people were treating me. Since this was a family event, the first question out of everybody's mouth was, 'How are you?' It was an unanswerable question at this stage. But that wasn't the worst part. It was the falsely enthusiastic, carefully enunciated tone people used; they were talking down to me, as if I were a toddler or a very old person. It was demoralizing, but I couldn't really blame them. No one had a clue about what was going on inside my head."
I related to this very much, and could totally experience this via Cahalan's words. (less)