Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Body Drama

This is a MotherTalk book review.

Body Drama by Nancy Amanda Redd is the book I wish I'd had when I was a young teenager. It discusses the things you don't want to even think about when you're 12, 14, 15 years old and it does it in a down to earth and friendly fashion. There are photographs galore and they aren't the airbrushed things you find in fashion magazines. They're of real young women with real bodies who have real issues and problems.

The book addresses myriad calamities that girls of that age go thru - zits on your face and on your back, body hair, weird odors and body image. It does it in an honest and straight forward way. It doesn't sugar coat things but its reassuring tone is comforting to girls who are convinced that they are the only ones experiencing all these strange things.

I handed the book to my daughter, who is 13. She was revolted and fascinated at the same time. She spent about an hour flipping thru it and handed it back to me, saying "Mum, there's, like, 20 pictures of vaginas in there." Then she paused and said "You don't have to give it back, do you?" I assured her that I didn't and she smiled and said "Good. I want to look at it again."

I initially wanted to review this book because my daughter has type 1 diabetes and the incidence of eating disorders and body dysmorphia are exponentially higher in girls with type 1. I wanted something that would reassure her that she was normal, that most girls go thru what she does and that no one is like they are in the magazines or on television. Going by her reaction, I think this book will more than hit the mark. It doesn't patronize, it speaks honestly and openly and is reassuring without being phony. I'm thrilled to have this on hand for my daughter to peruse and think it would make a great addition to any young woman's book shelf.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Middle Place

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan is ostensibly a memoir about a young woman's battle with breast cancer. In reality, it is that and an ode to her family, to her irrepressible father, her pragmatic mother, to her husband and their two young daughters.

I'm often torn about whether I should read books like this or not. They knock at my heart and drag some of my darkest fears into the light where I'm forced to examine them before locking them away until the next time. But this was a book I was glad to have read.

Ms. Corrigan brings you right in to her story, her battle with breast cancer and the story of her family, by switching back and forth from her childhood to her current situation. This can often be jarring, but she accomplishes it smoothly, without the frustration of being left hanging for a while.

Even though she is telling a difficult story, she tells it with a lot of humour and with a down-to-earth manner that pulls you in and keeps you reading. She is honest about her bouts of selfishness, her impatience with her kids, her silly arguments with her husband, her difficult relationship with her mother. She doesn't sugar coat things and she doesn't make herself out to be a superwoman or a hero, but just confused, scared and angry about having to deal with having cancer.

I found myself laughing, often thru tears, as I read this book. It sounds a little odd to say that I had fun while reading this book - it is, after all, a book about breast cancer, a topic that often elicits hushed tones and somber expressions - but it was a fun book, a book full of hope and life and laughter. It was less a book about breast cancer than it was a book about love.