A woman, writing under a pseudonym, struggles to recover from two traumatic brain injuries in this memoir.
A successful African-American businesswoman, nicknamed “Scooter,” moved from Silicon Valley with her husband to the Trinity Alps Preserve in California. They grappled with rural politics and hoped to build a house on their land by appearing on ABC’s Extreme Makeover television show. Scooter had earlier survived a brain injury from a car accident in 1976, which altered her personality and left her estranged from her family. Now living in Shasta County with her husband and daughter, she slipped and fell in a Lailomaret store and suffered yet another, more traumatic injury. Robbed of her memory, she also had to cope with a schizophrenic husband who became erratic; children with attention deficit and bipolar disorders; indifferent relatives; attorneys who disputed her “hidden disabilities,” such as memory loss and chronic pain; and doctors who distrusted her symptoms. Scooter remembered past events, but then forgot them; she occasionally couldn’t make new memories. However, she strongly recalled things when her emotions took over, or when racism intruded. At times sardonic and self-aware, at other times resentful, defensive, and determined, Scooter reached out to friends for help as her lawsuit moved forward. After appearing in the studio audience on The Oprah Winfrey Show, she was inspired to write her life story. The author’s narrative is associative rather than chronological, but despite small inconsistencies, a coherent timeline soon emerges, poignantly bookended by the dreams that she once had for a rural retreat. Scooter’s observations are blunt (“I expected one of these specialists to use an X-ray machine that could see my pain”), and sometimes chilling; for example, while watching an interview with two other brain injury victims, she notes that the one with a supportive husband had come to depend on him, whereas the abandoned victim, like her, was more proactive. Alternately detailed and vague, her heartbreaking story circles back to fill in amnesiac lapses with sadness and forgiveness.
A disorienting but powerful account of a woman’s search for dignity and identity.