Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tender Points” as Want to Read:
Tender Points
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tender Points

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  518 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Tender Points is a narrative fractured by trauma. Named after the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, the book-length lyric essay explores sexual violence, gendered illness, chronic pain, and patriarchy through the lenses of lived experience and pop culture (Twin Peaks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, noise music, etc.).

Teaching Guide (or Book Club Guide) here:
Paperback, 136 pages
Published June 20th 2015 by Timeless, Infinite Light
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tender Points, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tender Points

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  518 ratings  ·  72 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Tender Points
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
A beautiful and plainly written book-length essay about living with and writing about fibromyalgia, trauma, being a survivor, and more. Side note: I can't help but feel a kinship with any writer who mentions riot grrrl in a book on any topic.

Many passages stood out to me, and made me see the world in new ways, but here's one that I reached for a pencil to underline:

"Brautigan's style of misogyny--call it gentle misogyny, subtle misogyny, or microaggresive misogyny--is woven deep throughout the
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
On Friday I went to Skylight Books to see Maggie Nelson read from her masterpiece (edit: one of her masterpieces) The Argonauts, and she gave a sterling endorsement for the writer that was following her, a young woman named Amy Berkowitz. I didn't gather that Maggie Nelson was the opener to a headlining act, but was thrilled to see that her blurb was also on this book's back cover. Also written in a format akin to The Argonauts and Citizen, Tender Points is an immensely American lyric as well. I ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, disability
I reread this while I had a migraine, and found it so compelling I changed my rating from three stars to five. I found the short pieces moving, and while I was in a place of pain, reading them was very cathartic. This time round, I appreciated Berkowitz's brevity and her clarity.

In 2018 I said:
This is written in the style I think of as "poetry-essays". These pieces, rarely longer than 200 words, sometimes read like short pieces of prose, sometimes more like prose-poetry or sometimes a spoken w
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
This was quite possibly the best and most resonant book I’ve ever read about chronic illness. I have a lot of thoughts about it but I’m not sure I can articulate them right now, but I will just say: it was very empowering, as someone who’s struggled with chronic illness that has enormously impacted my life and what I’m capable of, to see many of the things I’ve found myself thinking about written out this way. Just because you deal with a condition or illness that medicine doesn’t understand or ...more
Carmelo Valone
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A poetic and meaningful interpretation of the culture of living with chronic pain, ptsd, and fibromyalgia. As a sufferer myself, it's a beautifully written memoir as the world has been flooded with how-to-deal-with books, it's just lovely to read that someone, somewhere elese in this world is being honest about the disease and it's origins, which is never a pretty place.
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"i'm 31 but i feel like i'm 60. people in my life may think i am exaggerating but i am always in pain. every morning i wake up feeling like i was run over by a truck. i feel like i've been hit by a bus. i wake up stiff like a coyote with rheumatism. i wake up in the woods on a bed of dried moss. i have a doctor i have a wolf i have an ex. interrupting me, stepping out from behind the same tree to block my path. invisible, impossible to prove. whether or not you believe me. imagine it repeating l ...more
Victoria Carney
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So good!! A very beautiful and poetic telling of life with chronic illness (Fibromyalgia) and a traumatic event (rape). This hit home in a lot of ways and was such a quick read- everyone should read it! The more we read, the more we understand.
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
"People in my life may think I am exaggerating but I am always in pain. Every morning I wake up feeling like I was run over by a truck. I feel like I've been hit by a bus. I wake up stiff like a coyote with rheumatism. I wake up in the woods on a bed of dried moss. I have a doctor I have a wolf I have an ex. Interrupting me, stepping out from behind the same tree to block my path. Invisible, impossible to prove. Whether or not you believe me. Imagine it repeating like a GIF"

This book was so goo
Leigh Stein
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amy Berkowitz has written a powerful, thought-provoking, and occasionally darkly funny book on trauma and chronic pain. Would recommend to anyone who loves Bluets, The Empathy Exams, or Heroines by Kate Zambreno.

"Our culture is quick to dismiss the emotional as illegitimate, insubstantial, not worth considering, and nobody wants their pain to be dismissed. But by refusing the connection between mind and body, we neglect an important area of research and also accept the misogynistic and foolish t
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So well-written. Anyone interested in fibromyalgia, rape culture and lyric essays should read this.
Dec 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a very intense, poetic (short) memoir. The author has fibromaylgia and I picked it up because I’m intrigued and perplexed by some of these diseases that are “hidden” as she calls them. I’ll admit I grapple with thoughts related to something like “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”...fighting the urge to dismiss it as “not a real illness.” And then I of course hate myself for thinking it (easy to be dismissive when you’re in good health). I really want to understand and have better sympathy for th ...more
Avery Guess
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dis-lit, 2018
Tender Points is a story about pain. About fibromyalgia, specifically. About rape, specifically. About being a woman in pain. About being a woman diagnosed with fibromyalgia. About being a woman who was raped. Berkowitz explores the twin presence of pain and trauma, of a rape that boomerangs back through the body and becomes fibromyalgia, and what it means to be a woman who is not believed (because she is a woman) - not about the rape, not about the pain, and how she goes on living with the pain ...more
Sarah Hannah
This book is everything. I wanted to cry while reading it, and it put me in pain thinking about how I have been in this pain and how this diagnosis is everything and it saves you but it's also frustratingly belittling and unsettling and unhelpful. So much to say that I can't even organize my thoughts right now.

Everyone should read this for about 100 different reasons, but especially if you have chronic pain or if you're a medical professional. This is one of those texts that will help make you l
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In the weeks since I read this, I've encountered several women with fibromyalgia in the mental health clinic where I work. I'm grateful to this beautiful, emotional volume for helping me tune into the frustration and pain of the disease, so I don't inadvertently become another skeptical health professional questioning their experience.
A powerful memoir bursting with sadness and anger and pain. Berkowitz has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and in this book she explores the emotions of chronic pain, the path to diagnosis, invisible illness, and trauma. Her prose is withering and she manages to pack so much into so few words. And those words, they linger. I look forward to more from Berkowitz.

Highly recommend.
Carolee Wheeler
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Meaningful musings on chronic pain. Might trigger some, due to rape trauma.
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
"to Google yellow wallpaper and find

Yellow wallpaper

I mean like swatches of it."
Catherine Pikula
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This "gracefully accomplished everything my own essays aim to do in regards to writing the body into the text and making the personal universal."
G.L. Morrison
Tender and pointed. This book (not poetry, not prose) defies convention. The heft of it in your hands lets you know the memoir (survivor journal/journey) is a unique work of defiance, artistry, and transparency. The cover is riddled with pinholes that burrow in, flashing the inside pages, as if the book itself stopped in after visiting its acupuncturist.

Content warning: rape.

In conversation with a friend I recommended the book to, she pointed to this trigger warning as to why she would not read
Ferris Knight
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: new, memoir
I agree that pain is something more complex and unknowable than a puzzle. And yet, when it comes to the mystery of my pain, I can't resist the impulse to solve it. I have all these pieces, and I can't stop my hands from wanting to jam them together until some sense emerges."

Trigger warning for rape and dismissing of disabilities

Berkowitz's memoir about her struggles with fibromyalgia, vulvodynia and surviving rape is an interesting yet quick read. It's unusual style is not only an attempt to por
Eric Mueller
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I'm writing about the violence of patriarchal culture. I'm writing about the uneven balance of power in female-patient/male-doctor relationships. I'm aware of a certain home-team advantage, and I will not dare write this in anything that can't pass for straight masculine prose." (26)

I could not put this book down. I had seen it on a the shelf at Alleycat Books in San Francisco. The cover intrigued me. When I opened the book and saw the structure, some of its lyrical prose, I had to get it. Tend
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A (painful) reimagining, reassertion of the mind body problem. In stark, simple language Amy Berkowitz creates and shares a space of profound vulnerability with the reader, using her own chronic pain and its inciting trauma as tools for research, in the deepest senses, into our individual and collective failures to address the missteps, hauntings, violences, and erasures embedded in our language, thought, and feeling around pain, wellness, belief, trauma, autonomy, and dignity. Medicine is often ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you experience chronic pain, have fibromyalgia, have been sexually assaulted, or are simply a woman - this is a MUST READ. I am so thankful for Amy's work. I have chronic pain, fibromyalgia, been sexually assaulted twice, and am a female that is highly aware of the misogynistic culture we live in. I feel so understood and visible after reading this. Thank you.
Audrey Saxton
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 4class
After I finished reading this, I thought, this is the kind of book I wish I could read all the time. A mix of poetry and prose, personal narrative and quotations from other sources and texts, this story tells of the author's diagnosis with fibromyalgia and the connections between medical and sexual trauma. Very poignant, thought-provoking and beautifully written.
Vincent Scarpa
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it
(Really 3.5, I suppose.)

Plenty to admire throughout, but upon coming to the end the whole project felt rather...thin to me. As though the book stopped rather than arrived at its (a) conclusion. Still, glad to have read it.
Jordan Nunes
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Incredible writing. I had no idea what I was in for when I picked it up, but I'm glad I did. This isn't really a review just a recommendation to find this book, read this book, and share it with people you know!
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A powerful lyric essay on trauma, pain, misogyny, patriarchy, rape culture and who's voices are heard and considered valid, trustworthy.
Eddie Harrison
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I know I have a terrible power. I identify with the ocean, i.e., I could kill people just by being myself."

page 104
I am so angry for her and for myself and for all that women have to deal with in this world.
Casady Monroe
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Feminist manifesto equating fibromyalgia as the new 'hysteria' diagnosis. Many interesting points on doctor/patient relationship, pain, and the feminine voice.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric
  • The Crying Book
  • Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through
  • Bluets
  • Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System
  • Citizen: An American Lyric
  • Females
  • Jane: A Murder
  • literally show me a healthy person
  • The Undying
  • Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
  • Homie
  • Sick: A Memoir
  • Something Bright, Then Holes
  • She of the Mountains
  • In the Dream House: A Memoir
  • On Hell
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: The Complete Series
See similar books…
Amy Berkowitz is the author of Tender Points (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2015) a book-length lyric essay about chronic pain and trauma. Other writing has appeared in publications including Bitch, McSweeney's, and Wolfman New Life Quarterly. She lives in San Francisco, where she’s working on her second book.

News & Interviews

As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young ...
9 likes · 5 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »