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Jeremy's Hospital Survival Guide

A detailed and ultimately touching memoir in the form of a hospital manual.

Awards & Accolades

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A posthumous reconstruction offers a valiant young patient’s guide to dealing with hospital stays.

Jeremy Libon, the central figure and inspiration for this short debut book compiled by his family, was born with a congenital heart defect that led his doctors to warn that his odds of living even to the age of 2 were only 50-50. It turned out he lived until April 2010, dying at the age of 18, and in that time he demonstrated both an unquenchable spirit of optimism and a savvy, pragmatic knowledge of the hospital world through countless stays under doctors’ care. The segment of the book actually authored by Jeremy is blunt about the drawbacks of hospital stays, detailing annoyances like being woken up round the clock for vitals testing, IV changing, and the frequent taking of blood. He even addresses the dismal experience of being admitted to the hospital in the first place. His short segment also provides upbeat advice about reclaiming your life once you return from a hospital stay: showering the clinical smells off your skin and hair, and taking it easy (“There is nothing wrong with taking a nap during the day, no matter how old you are”). His section of the book is followed by remembrances of him by his brother, his father, and, in the most moving and practical-minded account, his mother. She continues the advice-giving theme of Jeremy’s section, talking to readers about tricks to stave off waiting-room boredom, and ways to navigate hospital regulations about visitors and family members sleeping in the building. Parents of severely ill children should find her advice valuable on subjects ranging from the power of distraction to the benefit of discussions with nurses (“They can help you figure out the day-to-day, nitty-gritty, quality-of-life issues that many doctors don’t concern themselves with”). The cumulative effect of all these different family voices makes Jeremy's death all the more crushing—and his courage all the more uplifting.

A detailed and ultimately touching memoir in the form of a hospital manual.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5122-2376-7

Page Count: 120

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2016

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BRAVE ENOUGH

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.

What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-946909

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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MASTERY

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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