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GUTS: A Memoir

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4.28  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  23 reviews
At age 24, Janet Buttenwieser moved to Seattle with a résumé devoted to public service and fantasies of single-handedly ending poverty. But within a year she’d developed an intestinal illness so rare she wound up in a medical journal. Janet navigated misdiagnosis, multiple surgeries, and life with a permanent colostomy. Like many female patients her concerns were glossed o ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by Vine Leaves Press
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Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  111 ratings  ·  23 reviews


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Robyn Schultz
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
Since it was set in Seattle, I know all the places that she mentioned. I also work in a library, so her library stories were very relatable. I wanted to learn more about how she handled life with a colostomy bag. What's it like to run a triathlon with that taped to your body? How does it impact your day to day life? While the book goes into details about all the misdiagnoses, and wrong treatments along the way, that part of the story missing. I felt like such a big life change should have been g ...more
Peggy
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Although the author read at reading series I curate I was out of town and missed the event. This last year my paths crossed with the author as part of another collaboration and I realized I should read it. I write every week with people whose lives have all been profoundly affected by major illnesses so my bar is high for accounts that center on illness. What a surprise to find this memoir was so much more. When it resonated the most was in moments that were not reflective, in particular a momen ...more
Iris Graville
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Guts reveals one woman's inner journey through illness, friendship, recovery, grief, and joy. It's evident that Buttenweiser has grown through some heartbreaking losses, and her honest reflections inspired and moved me. Her smart, yet tender, wit softened the sadness and poignantly portrayed the deep connections among the characters.

The perspective from a patient makes this a must-read for health professionals. Tri-athletes, people with fertility struggles, and anyone who's ever lost a friend or
...more
Susan Hayes-mcqueen
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
very personal story and a fantastic tribute to a friend. made me want to embrace life more... it's too short. well written, a great tale with disease and Seattle as secondary, but vivid characters.
Sandra Stiles
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, memoir
I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.



Most of us face one major incident in our life if we are lucky. Imagine that you not only have a serious illness but you have also had to suffer a loss and infertility. For a lot of people I know having to deal with just one of those things would be enough to turn their life upside down to the point that they couldn’t deal with it. Here we have a woman who has faced so many issues yet through her story we find ho
...more
Jelena
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever felt like a doctor or caregiver wasn't listening, or discounting your opinions? Have you ever known something was wrong with your body, but haven't been given the answers you need to heal? Guts is an absolutely incredibly story of a young woman's journey regarding an all to common occurrence in modern medicine. In it she recounts her early days of the illness that would come to dominate much of her life, and what it was like in a pre internet age to be diagnosed with a little under ...more
Jennifer Brooks
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and riveting personal account of one woman’s drive to thrive, not just survive, despite some of the most challenging issues we face as human beings: serious chronic illness, infertility, loss, and grief. Not to mention grueling triathelons!

Uncommonly candid, brave, poignant, and funny, with insightful introspection and inspiration throughout, Guts is a page-turner from start to finish. Surprisingly, I read the book in just two days over a holiday weekend with my husband and
...more
Claire
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This memoir is brave. It's honest. It's beautifully written. While coping with a terminal illness, a misdiagnosis, a best friend with cancer, and all the trimmings and trappings of 21st century life and adoptive parenthood, the author offers her readers insight, hope, and fortitude. We're drawn in from page one through intense experience and spot-on imagery and scenes, cheering Janet on through hardship, loss, and quiet but poignant victories. It's not just a compelling story, but also a valuabl ...more
Ann Epstein
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interweaving Illness, Family, and Friendship -- Janet Buttenwieser rewards readers with three connected stories. First, the book is a moving memoir of how she found the confidence to speak up for herself to a medical establishment that claimed to know her body better than she did, and how she trained that body to take physical risks she never thought possible. Second, Guts is an appreciation of family, the body’s extension that sustains us when we’re ready to surrender and magnifies our joy when ...more
Kim Lundstrom
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
GUTS couldn’t be more aptly titled. In her 20s, Janet Buttenwieser’s life was just getting started when she was diagnosed with a chronic condition, which led to multiple surgeries, infertility, and a permanent colostomy. Then her best friend developed brain cancer. With unflinching honesty and surprising humor, Ms. Buttenwieser lays out the details of a decidedly unglamorous medical condition, as well as her personal shortcomings, as she navigates the healthcare system, the stresses and joys of ...more
Kate Kaufmann
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just finished GUTS: A Memoir. Oh, my. There's a lot of life packed into 235 pages, beautifully written and deeply expressed. Weaving together the author's harrowing experience being gravely ill, misdiagnosed, and subjected to intimate medical procedures with the evolution of a cherished friendship, the reader comes to know so many layers of Buttenwieser's character. This is one resilient woman, frank and so very approachable.

Buttenwieser is a master of simile, many of them breathtaking. I will
...more
Cecilie Ames
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this memoir very moving. Although it started with illness and diagnosis of Crohn's disease, it went beyond the medical issues and explored relationships, self-identity, meaning and memories.
Pamela S. Wayman
Race of a Lifetime

This book was very interesting. Janet explains how she made it through many physical trials and m as nagged to take them in her stride. Also her love for her family, and her journey with her best friend Beth.
Connie Connally
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book, especially for people who face on-going illness, either their own or that of a loved one. This is a brave and frank look at pain, limitation, grief and healing.
Jodi
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
It takes “guts” to be so unflinchingly honest about one’s feelings and motivations. What a pleasure to feel like I was walking even if only ever so briefly in another woman’s shoes.
Daisy Bowe
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A compelling, raw and candid memoir. Janet writes with clarity and honestly. I felt I was with her as she ran, swam and biked.
Barbara
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Written by a Seattle writer so I had to read it. Very engaging memoir of illness and loss. Seattleites will recognize their city and their hospitals.
Tracy Strauss
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
An extraordinary story about strength in the face of adversity.
Brian Delahunty
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very brave, very honest, and quite funny.

In full disclosure, I know the author but I never knew anything about the personal struggles in this memoir.
Heidi Barr
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A powerful read about what it's like to live with chronic illness and deal with loss, all while living a full life and finding a path to healing along the way.
Heather Durham
This is the best kind of memoir. It isn’t a hero story you’ll despair of living up to, nor a “look how much I’ve had to bear” story meant to evoke guilt or pity. This is a human story made of the stuff of all human stories – love, loss, friendship, family, grief, triumph, and multiple twists and turns along the way. All intimately expressed as if whispered in confidence by a new friend - an authentic, easy-going, down-to-earth friend full of wit, wisdom, humility, and grace, one who speaks her t ...more
Thomas Groom
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just finished a pre-release read of Guts. I think everyone who reads it will be inspired and almost everyone humbled as they read the story of Janet Buttenwieser. At a very young age she battles misdiagnosis, multiple surgeries, infertility, and finally permanent medical complications. Janet gives incredible insight into her frustrations, fears, and pain, not just in dealing with serious health issues, but also heartbreak with her closest relationships. She takes us on this journey with a grea ...more
Robin Burchill
rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2019
Kathy Buford
rated it really liked it
Sep 19, 2019
Jessica Balsam
rated it it was ok
Sep 17, 2018
Annie Boochever
rated it it was amazing
Feb 26, 2018
Christina
rated it it was amazing
Mar 03, 2018
Kate Leggett
rated it did not like it
Oct 11, 2019
Karen
rated it it was ok
Feb 22, 2020
Joyce
Mar 26, 2018 added it
This book is nothing like Brain on Fire and it is disingenuous to represent it as such (themes that echo or otherwise).
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