Intriguing case histories, related with a personal passion that sets Mason’s book apart from Oliver Sacks’s cooler writings...

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HEAD CASES

STORIES OF BRAIN INJURY AND ITS AFTERMATH

Dispassionate neuroscience meets fierce advocacy in this heartbreaking but hopeful look at the little-understood world of those who suffer traumatic brain injuries.

Mason is a traumatic brain-injury case manager; brain-injury survivors (an estimated 5.3 million in the United States) go to him after they’ve exhausted every other option. His mission is getting help for people stuck in the purgatory of the U.S. healthcare system. His job, which takes him across the country, is convincing hospital administrators and neurologists and specialty care centers to give clients suffering debilitating brain injuries a new chance at life. Currently, Mason reports, there are at least 90,000 Americans with a brain injury severe enough to require an extended stay in rehab, but there are only a few thousand specialty beds, even fewer for patients whose disabilities are not just mental and physical but emotional. Clients include a man with encephalitis who is convinced he is dead; a woman with no memory, not even of the daughter who was killed in the car wreck that left her disabled; and an amnesiac serving time for a crime he can’t remember committing. These patients’ initial injuries are only prologues to the real tragedies, which begin when healthcare policies run out, or government support goes dry, and the severely disabled victims are left to fend for themselves, in many cases bankrupting their families. Few of the stories end happily: one client attempts suicide; another ends up in a mental hospital with no brain-injury experts on staff. Mason’s goal here is to convey awareness, not to uplift.

Intriguing case histories, related with a personal passion that sets Mason’s book apart from Oliver Sacks’s cooler writings on the subject.

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-13452-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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