She didn’t see the hammer. For a fraction of a second JoAnne Jones saw a young black face, framed by a black hoodie, and then she descended into a place where she felt and saw nothing.
Jones survived this sudden assault by a stranger, but it left her with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), fractured hands, and PTSD. Headstrong tells the story of how she learned to live with the daily challenges of TBI. It brings the reader into a life traumatized by violence and set in the context of a society full of violence and vocal, visible white supremacists. Woven throughout Jones’s account are the stories of how medical professionals, friends, family, and strangers became a foundation strong enough to hold her during the worst of times, and to give her the buoyancy to find a path toward hope.
A random and ugly act of violence gives rise to a book filled with wisdom and beauty.
Although the assault and the subsequent trauma are the scaffolding of this memoir, the story is so much more. We follow the author as she contends with the consequences of TBI such as, the ongoing challenge of living with invisible injury, and the struggle to regain mental and physical skills. We also celebrate the community of doctors, friends and loved ones who rallied in enumerable ways. I love that the chapters evolve from fear and trauma to love and gratitude for her community and especially her immediate family who also endured the shock of the attack. Some of this book will make you angry and feel sorry for the author but ultimately JoAnne Silver Jones gives us the gift of understanding that patience, resilience, and of course love, are required for true healing.
Quick note that rating is based on actual writing, not story itself. What this author went through and is going through is heartbreaking in the highest sense of the word and I would never rate someone's personal story.
I appreciated Jones's honesty in her writing, and her ups and downs while healing (and continuing to heal) from her assault were written about in great detail and without shying away from tough subjects. From the entire book, Jones makes it clear that trauma like this, for her and others, is not something to heal from and move on simply, but the ending of the book did kind of feel like that, which seemed odd. But it was a good book of a woman overcoming all odds to fight for herself and the challenge of healing in that it's by no means linear or only in one direction.
CW: violent assault and descriptions of medical trauma caused by it, seizures, PTSD, death of animal
Because I am a writer, I always think I know what it takes to write a book. But what does it take to write a book when you have sustained traumatic brain injury? How much strength and focus does it require of someone whose instrument for creating the book is both the subject and the obstacle? This book will leave you inspired.
I received this book as part of a Goodreads First Reads promotion.
JoAnne Silver Jones travelled to Washington DC for the first inauguration of President Obama. She planned to stay with her daughter; when walking to her home, she was hit from behind with a hammer by an assailant and suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as fractures in both hands.
Thank you to Ms. Silver Jones for sharing her very personal, and often difficult, reflections on how this violent event has changed her life, physically and emotionally. This book is very well-written and provides an intimate glimpse into the very complicated new world that she now lives in following the attack.
This book should be read by individuals who know someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury or someone who was a victim of random violence. The author explains the very real, complicated emotions she has experienced and provides some guidance for those who care about these individuals to help them to know how to respond.
I didn’t expect to love this book . It really inspired me. The scene where she was dancing to “I will survive” with her students will stick with me forever. I loved every page of this book. It was a great subplot with her dogs. She’s an extraordinarily talented writer and an all-around interesting and kind and strong soul. I will recommend this to everyone.
Another powerful transformational memoir about surviving a traumatic brain injury. Written in a simple and straightforward style, the account underscores the importance of family, friends, and even dedication from strangers to help her rebuild her life. Highly recommended.
Was reading this for research purposes. I think this is probably an excellent book worth reading, especially is you or someone you know suffers from TBI. I had been swimming in TBI memoirs and was ready to be done reading them, so this rating likely isn’t fair. I did not finish this book.