Despite its flaws, this book may be useful for families affected by porphyria and may interest others frustrated by flawed...

Purple Canary


A mother helps her daughter cope with a rare disease in this memoir.

Debut author Gould describes her yearslong quest to help her adopted daughter, Jill, who was afflicted with a rare genetic disorder called acute intermittent porphyria starting at age 11. Its symptoms include severe diarrhea, convulsions, and fainting; this caused problems at Jill’s Connecticut school, including frequent absences and trips to the hospital as well as bullying by other students. School officials were largely unsympathetic, the author says, even accusing Jill of being an “attention-seeking faker.” Gould also says that some doctors initially misdiagnosed the affliction, including one who decided that the girl suffered from bipolar disorder. After a genetic test linked Jill to AIP, she received infusions of a blood factor called heme, which seemed to help. But problems persisted, especially at school, leading Gould to believe that “a building filled with toxic chemicals and toxic people”—cleaners, wet erasers, and stress-inducing bullies—were triggering her daughter’s attacks. Tutoring and transfers to other schools didn’t solve the problem, however, although sometimes Jill did improve a bit. By the end of this sad tale, though, Jill is a suicidal heroin addict. In addition to her daughter’s tragic story, Gould also presents some AIP research and websites as well as some of Jill’s own first-person observations. Overall, this book offers a troubling account, and its broadest contribution is how it highlights the difficulties that people with unusual problems face in the American public school and health care systems. Although the author doesn’t prove that toxins at school triggered her daughter’s attacks, she makes some credible assertions. Unfortunately, she bogs the narrative down with too much description of bullying and “ridiculous middle school drama,” and her fondness for acronyms is distracting: “the PPT to set the IEP would be held at KPS.” The prose shows occasional flair, as when Gould describes when a baby Jill “plopped forward like a folded taco.” However, it sometimes suffers from clichés and repetition; for example, the author’s “head bells” always seem to be “clanging” or “jangling,” and people read one another “the riot act” more than once.

Despite its flaws, this book may be useful for families affected by porphyria and may interest others frustrated by flawed education and medical systems in the United States.

Pub Date: June 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-988186-99-3

Page Count: 358

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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