Cruickshank’s first book, an account of his battle with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, captures the difficult journey of coming to terms with chronic illness.
The author essentially writes in two narrative modes: a standard, autobiographical accounting of life events and a more general reflection on the meaning of his condition and its impact on his life and worldview. The more traditional material (the listing of family history, birth dates, life events, etc.) dominates the back half of the book. Much of this content focuses on Cruickshank’s children. The more reflective passages, however, ring with an unpolished authenticity that marks the best memoirs. Early in the book, the author recounts his gradual physical decline, starting from tiny slips in hand-eye coordination to collapsing in the garage. A former athlete, he writes about losing control of his body with a brutal sincerity. He explains his decision to leave the tech industry and pursue writing. His sense of personal triumph is contagious: “I’m an author. It feels good.” The prose, however, can fall flat, especially when Cruickshank falls back upon blunt recitation of facts. This kind of writing dominates the second half of the book. But when Cruickshank directly confronts MS, his writing is clear and moving. Cruickshank, however, didn’t write the best part of his book—that honor goes to his son, Ken, whose short essay opens the memoir. Written after one of Cruickshank’s falling episodes, the piece is a raw, pained account of watching a parent struggle. Like the book at large, it’s wrenching to read in parts. This book will offer a valuable point of reference to those suffering from MS or those with family members who have the condition.
An affecting account of chronic illness; a useful reference for those with MS and their family members.