Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review - Don't Kill The Birthday Girl: Tales From An Allergic Life by Sandra Beasley

I recently learned that one of my best friends from high school has an allergy to peanuts - not just any wheezing, sneezing allergy - one so severe that she could possibly die if she comes into contact with anything having remotely to do with peanuts.  I never knew that until now.  All those years as kids, she struggled with this, and now into adulthood, she continues to deal with the problems that accompany what is a very real disability.

So I was drawn to Sandra Beasley's account of her own struggles with allergies to - well, just about everything. I can honestly say that I understand my friend's condition so much better now for having read this book.

About The Book:

A beautifully written and darkly funny journey through the world of the allergic.

Like twelve million other Americans, Sandra Beasley suffers from food allergies. Her allergies—severe and lifelong—include dairy, egg, soy, beef, shrimp, pine nuts, cucumbers, cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, macadamias, pistachios, cashews, swordfish, and mustard. Add to that mold, dust, grass and tree pollen, cigarette smoke, dogs, rabbits, horses, and wool, and it’s no wonder Sandra felt she had to live her life as “Allergy Girl.” When butter is deadly and eggs can make your throat swell shut, cupcakes and other treats of childhood are out of the question—and so Sandra’s mother used to warn guests against a toxic, frosting-tinged kiss with “Don’t kill the birthday girl!”

It may seem that such a person is “not really designed to survive,” as one blunt nutritionist declared while visiting Sandra’s fourth-grade class. But Sandra has not only survived, she’s thrived—now an essayist, editor, and award-winning poet, she has learned to navigate a world in which danger can lurk in an unassuming corn chip. Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl is her story.

With candor, wit, and a journalist’s curiosity, Sandra draws on her own experiences while covering the scientific, cultural, and sociological terrain of allergies. She explains exactly what an allergy is, describes surviving a family reunion in heart-of-Texas beef country with her vegetarian sister, delves into how being allergic has affected her romantic relationships, exposes the dark side of Benadryl, explains how parents can work with schools to protect their allergic children, and details how people with allergies should advocate for themselves in a restaurant.

A compelling mix of memoir, cultural history, and science, Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl is mandatory reading for the millions of families navigating the world of allergies—and a not-to-be-missed literary treat for the rest of us.

Sandra Beasley shares not only her personal experiences in this captivating book, she imparts scientific facts, history and practical wisdom as she shares the arduous road she has traveled with her condition. Written in a lively, fast-paced manner, this book should be in the library of everyone who has allergies or loves someone who does - from children to adults.  I highly recommend it!

About The Author:

Sandra Beasley is the author of I Was the Jukebox, winner of the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize, selected by Joy Harjo and published by W. W. Norton. Her debut, Theories of Falling, was selected by Marie Howe as the winner of the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2008). Beasley is also an essayist whose work has been featured in the Washington Post Magazine. In July of this year, Crown published her memoir Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, which offers a cultural history of food allergies in America.

 For more information, check out her website at http://www.sandrabeasley.com/

I received this book through a promotion at Shelf Awareness. I was not compensated for my opinion. 

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