CLOSE TO DEATH by Aliciadine Starks


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Starks recounts her diabetes diagnosis and the steps she took to manage her disease in this debut memoir.

The author opens her story on a day in 2008 when she felt inexplicably weak while walking in a park; she sat on a bench and found that she “could literally not walk back to the car.” It turned out that she had a glucose reading in the 1100s—many times the healthy level. Thankful to be alive, she began a crash course in managing her diabetes. Starks got her diagnosis after years of poor nutrition and neglect, she admits, so developing better eating habits and following a healthy routine took a concerted effort. Over the course of the next few months, she created a new routine that included eating healthy, walking daily, and finding time to relax. Taking time to care for herself, she says, meant that she was better able to take care of others, including her teenage daughter. Throughout this book, she includes banal but necessary life lessons, entreating readers to take care of themselves, to keep moving forward, and to deal with stress early and often. There are moments of spiritual peace and comfort when Starks opts for grace and fortitude in the face of her diagnosis. She writes, for example, that she didn’t ask God for a cure or an explanation, but rather for support and the strength to fight it. The author’s diabetes-related ailments include poor eyesight, and she uses the anatomy of the eye as a metaphor for building strong character. She also says that her health crisis reflected her lack of values regarding health and wellness, and she posits that similar crises in values encompass other societal ills, including racism, sexism, and even terrorism. Insights like this occur rarely in this book, which often reads like a journal. However, the author’s colloquial tone and candid handling of medical jargon make aspects of disease management less intimidating, which may be useful for readers coping with a new diagnosis. For example, in plain English, she characterizes the cycle of insulin spikes and drops as a self-perpetuating process: “[I]f there is fat around your waist area, the sugar cannot get through into the cells, and so the body tries to produce more and more insulin....your body is working harder than it needs to.”

A sincere effort, but one that offers few new revelations for chronic diabetes sufferers.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2010
ISBN: 978-1448941674
Page count: 236pp
Publisher: PublishAmerica
Program: Kirkus Indie
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