Thursday, October 22, 2015

Book Review: Head Case

What if your whole life had been spent struggling with anxiety issues and learning disabilities without any clue as to where the struggles originated? What if the source of all your difficulties was finally established but promised nothing in the way of remediation for the things that perplex and confound you? What if your difficulties left a lasting imprint on the dynamics of your family structure and left you wondering about your place in the world?

Enter Cole Cohen. She lived just such a scenario. She had long been plagued with the difficulties of telling her left from her right, of judging the speed and motion of oncoming moving objects, of solving simple mathematical equations, or of keeping letters and numbers from flipping in her mind. Finally, at the age of twenty-six, when she is on the cusp of beginning a MFA degree, doctors discover a hole in her brain the size of lemon. In her touching memoir, Head Case: My Brain and Other Wonders, Cohen writes very honestly about her struggles and how her struggles impacted the people around her. Without whining about the hand she has been dealt, she conveys humor in the midst of a very perplexing situation. Given the size of the hole in her brain, it is remarkable that she is able to function as well as she does, and to write a memoir about the journey is even more incredible.

While the story was intriguing and well-told, I still wouldn't declare it one of my favorite memoirs about neurological difficulties. I think if someone approached me requesting a recommendation for a great neurological memoir, I would be far more likely to recommend Susannah Cahalan's Brain on Fire, reviewed here. It was simply a more powerful book, with a wider reaching purpose. But, if you plan to read it, do so soon, before it comes out in movie form in 2016.

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