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The Family Tooth: A Memoir

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  24 ratings  ·  10 reviews
At the beginning of 2013, hard on the heels of her mother’s death and a cancer diagnosis, Ellis Avery was stuck in a mobility scooter, crippled by an autoimmune condition called Reiter’s Syndrome. THE FAMILY TOOTH is a cancer story sandwiched inside a grief-and-food memoir, but more than that, it’s a story of hope and, ultimately, triumph: it tells the story of the medical ...more
Paperback, 199 pages
Published November 2015 by Seventeen Reasons
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4.21  · 
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 ·  24 ratings  ·  10 reviews


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Emily Barton
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you are reading my words here, please stop what you're doing and go read this book. I am a huge, abiding Ellis Avery fan, but I didn't know how much so until I read this book. I purchased some of these essays separately as Amazon singles and was struck by their honesty, the beauty of their structure, Avery's sly and piquant humor. But taken all together, as a collection, I honestly think these essays are life changing. So often, in our world, we feel compelled to put on a brave face, shunted ...more
Eric
Mar 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: disability, memoir
Uh.
Erin
Jun 16, 2019 added it
This was intimate. Honest. More honest than we usually are with other people. I felt her just getting to know herself, and as I read, I knew that journey for her would remain unfinished—no matter how hard she tried to do everything right, she would still die. I feel very sad for Ellis and for the people who loved her and are grieving this loss, but I am grateful she left this glimpse into her life and mind behind. She will be missed.
Nikki
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This short memoir covers the period after Avery's mother died and she was diagnosed with cancer and struggles to regain control of her health. There are so many everyday moments that are transformed by her keen observation and extraordinary perspective. Honest, intimate, poetic. Be in a good place when you pick this up. I read this for The Read Harder Challenge, a self published book.
NML_dc
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is incredibly painful to learn only after Ellis's death how much we truly had in common. I don't know if this book will be compelling to those who did not spend over 20 years admiring the author and envying her close friends die their nearness to her. It was to me, though, even if I had to put it down so many times to breathe.
Stephanie
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
At the end of the book, Avery writes that all of her researching energy - which previously went into researching her novels - was poured into research into her health and functionally saving her life. Blessings on David Mitchell for giving her the advice to write a book of essays, rather than trying to engage in a novel, because this book is as rich in the description that she brings to her novels, but there is also a certain immediacy and urgency to the topic. It is a memoir about her relations ...more
Jane Eaton Hamilton
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ellis Avery, in this memoir of her mother's death, her own dx with uterine cancer and her struggle with disabling arthritis, comes to us a clear-eyed and tender truth-teller.

It is hard, reading, not to feel pangs of pity for a young woman stricken in these severe ways, yet Avery would not have us linger where adversity wins. Ever-curious, she pushes past her own struggle to show us generosity and benevolence.

In a life circumscribed by illness, there is also a life that flourishes with happines
...more
Lucy Bledsoe
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a searing and beautiful book. The honesty and detailed awareness of the author's physical and emotional states make this one of those books that you need to read like you need to breathe. Anyone who has experienced chronic pain, or any pain, and taken the journey of negotiating with that pain and its accompanying world will be grateful for this story. Highly recommended.
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Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Powerful memoir with moving, elegant descriptions.
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The only writer ever to have received the American Library Association Stonewall Award for Fiction twice, Ellis Avery is the author of two novels, a memoir, and a book of poetry. Her novels, The Last Nude (Riverhead 2012) and The Teahouse Fire (Riverhead 2006) have also received Lambda, Ohioana, and Golden Crown awards, and her work has been translated into six languages. She teaches fiction writi ...more