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Tender Points

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  389 ratings  ·  54 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.).

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Paperback, 136 pages
Published June 20th 2015 by Timeless, Infinite Light
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4.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  389 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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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
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
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
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.
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So well-written. Anyone interested in fibromyalgia, rape culture and lyric essays should read this.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, disability
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 word piece. This style works very well for Maggie Nelson and is exceptional in the work of Claudia Rankine, but Berkowitz doesn't have the same control as they do. Sections, here, can feel repetitive or badly worded -- but my main criticism is the brevity of this book. Berkowitz raises so many int ...more
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: 2018, dis-lit
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.
Carolee Wheeler
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Meaningful musings on chronic pain. Might trigger some, due to rape trauma.
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."
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
"to Google yellow wallpaper and find

Yellow wallpaper

I mean like swatches of it."
Ferris Knight
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, new
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
Dena Shunra
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In her tremendously engaging book, Berkowitz conveyed a blog-like sense of chopped-up narrative, which echoed very effectively the sort of chopped-up attention span that can result from chronic pain of either the body or the spirit.

The book was a gift, and I was informed that it would be a quick read. It was: a single sitting, with the more poetic portions savored and the less poetic ones merely digested. Or rather, begun to be digested. I am taking away from the reading some thoughts (and memo
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.
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.
Rachel Terns
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
holy shit
Tim Looney
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.
Gina Krupp
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
beautiful and powerful. Started and finished this in one swoop at the laundromat this morning.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Just as good as I was told
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this. I have never related to a book in this way. I have been sick for 10 years, undiagnosed for more than half of that time. Thank you for sharing your words, your experience, Amy.
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book of prose about chronic pain, trauma, the invisibility and invalidation of women's experience of illness, and of women's bodies. I loved it.
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is misleading. Misleading because it is so small, short, accessible, and humorous but packs such a huge impact. Berkowitz poignantly walks the reader through how she came to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, how she connects it to a once repressed memory being raped, and the impacts both of these have on her life. Mostly written in sections ranging from just a few sentences to just a few pages, Tender Points reads a bit like a series of blog posts. The prose is casual but unlike a diary ...more
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
To paraphrase Hamilton, this book is both a revelation and a revolution. It combines medical text, poetry, testimonial, and feminist critique to deliver an incredibly honest look at the intersections between gender, illness, and trauma. Berkowitz specifically uses scientific language to fight against the all-too-frequent dismissal of condition labeled as "women's illnesses," but supplements this with personal vignettes to make the book not only relevant to those that worry about statistical sign ...more
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