This inspiring account of caring for a loved one with a brain injury will help guide anyone in a similar situation.

BRAIN STORM

A JOURNEY OF FAITH THROUGH BRAIN INJURY

One couple’s tale of struggle and ultimate triumph over a debilitating brain injury as relayed by both patient and caregiver.

The journal-style writing delivers a deeply personal account of Laura and Bruce Allen’s difficult journey as they learned that Bruce had two lesions in his brain, a life-threatening condition requiring immediate surgery. Both religious leaders in their Southern community, the patient and caregiver never lost faith. Though the surgery to drain the abscess was a success, it was only the first step in a process of healing and learning to do the most basic actions. Bruce had to learn to walk, talk and manage mundane tasks all over again, while Laura learned to be patient and supportive. Laura describes their life after the diagnosis as the “new normal,” and comes to terms with that fact that Bruce may never return to his pre-brain-injury self. “When the person can accept these changes and make use of adaptations where needed, he will find he can enjoy life—perhaps even more than before….” Each chapter opens with an email that caregiver Laura sent to close friends and family, relaying Bruce’s condition and detailing his slow return to health. Laura matter-of-factly shares the timeline and details surrounding the monthslong process of Bruce’s hospital and rehabilitative stays and the small but triumphant steps he makes toward recovery. Passages describing the same events, but written in Bruce’s voice, provide the unique vantage point of the patient. The support network of family and friends, including a daughter who is a nurse at the Shepherd Center where Bruce does his inpatient and outpatient rehab, help the couple make it through the toughest event of their lives. The book provides tangible advice and resources for patients and caregivers to maintain their strength of spirit and body.

This inspiring account of caring for a loved one with a brain injury will help guide anyone in a similar situation.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1449737719

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2012

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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