Memoir

Book Review: Sole Survivor

Sole Survivor: The Inspiring True Story of Coming Face to Face with the Infamous Railroad KillerSole Survivor: The Inspiring True Story of Coming Face to Face with the Infamous Railroad Killer by Holly Dunn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We continue our true crime streak today.

I first came across Holly Dunn’s story a few years ago on an episode of 48 Hours. I was floored by her resilience then and when I saw she was writing a book to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her survival, I knew I had to read it.

Dunn is the sole survivor of a terrible serial killer known as the Railroad Killer. Angel Maturino Resendiz is suspected of killed 23 people across the United States and Mexico over a 20 year period. Through luck and quick thinking Dunn was able to live through her terrible encounter with the Railroad Killer and she’s gone on to help countless survivors of rape and violence.

While Dunn’s story is incredible and moving, the book was a bit long and more conversational in tone than well written. Some have complained the book glosses over the aftermath of the attack, which is true. If you wanted a book solely focused on the crime, this is not for you. This book is about Dunn’s recovery, her faith in God, and her life now. There is a heavy religious element to this book and readers need to be aware that there is some witnessing happening.

Overall it was not a bad book. Holly Dunn is an inspiration and a powerful survivor and that is worth more than anything.

Advertisements

Book Review: One Dumb Guy

The Kids in the Hall: One Dumb GuyThe Kids in the Hall: One Dumb Guy by Paul Myers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Individually, I think we’re all very smart. Just together as a group, we’re really just one dumb guy”- Mark McKinney

This official biography of one of the most influential sketch comedy troupes of all time is fascinating and incredibly well written. Let’s be honest, biography/memoir isn’t a genre that everyone loves; it can be dry and lacking but The Kids in the Hall: One Dumb Guy by Paul Myers is a standout in its category.

Paul Myers delves deep into the history of the troupe starting with how Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, and Scott Thompson were drawn to comedy as children and teens dealing with traumatic and difficult lives. From there, he take the reader through the KITH’s rise in Toronto’s comedy scene and how their eventual discovery lead to a TV show the likes no one had seen before.

Myers does not mince words — as a long time “member” of The KITH, he knows the ins and outs of their history. and is able to lead the reader through the good times and bad, up to the present day. The KITH are a testament to truly loving your craft, and your friends, even when you hate both.

What make this book great is that The KITH were extensively involved in the production, providing interviews and anecdotes that add to the authenticity. My copy was an ARC version and didn’t include photos, though I hope Myers adds some in the future as they would be fantastic throwbacks. This is a must read for any fan of The Kids in the Hall. I consider myself to be one of their biggest fans and even I learned some new stuff! Don’t miss this one!

*I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley.*

Book Review: Beauty in the Broken Places

Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and ResilienceBeauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience by Allison Pataki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was given an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

It’s scary to think that every single person on this planet could suffer a traumatic brain injury that will irreparably alter their plans for the future. Most of us get lucky and never have to face this conundrum, but Allison and her husband Dave are not so fortunate. Dave suffers a terrible stroke deep in his brain and must re-learn how to be a person again and at the same time, Allison gives birth to their first child while raising her husband from his own infancy.

Pataki writes with so much emotion–I could feel her agonies, her frustrations, her joys. This book was an incredible work. Even though I am not religious, I honestly sat back and thought about Pataki’s deep faith in God and what I would do in such a situation. I realized that I would pray to every deity out there. No sense in not stacking the deck in our favor. I love a book that makes me re-evaluate my own beliefs and goals in life. Pataki’s Beauty in Broken Places did just that. Fantastic!

Book Review: The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and RecoveryThe Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery by Barbara K. Lipska

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the step-parent of a child with mental illness, I’ve often wondered what is really going on in his head. Granted, he suffers from autism as well, but there was so much cross-over between Barbara Lipska’s experiences and what I see with my stepson. The idea that every human is just one unlucky event away from madness is terrifying, but Lipska presents her story brush with mental illness factually and scientifically in a way that only a scientist could. Despite the clinical nature of some passages, Lipska could be any of us, her family could be my own as we deal with the changes in one of our own, and the story it frighteningly relatable.

I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with mental illness in their family. I’ve already recommended it to a friend whose mother has dementia. It is a powerful passage into the psyche of someone in the throes of brain disease and it is a view not often granted to those on the outside.

Book Review: Patient H.M.

Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family SecretsPatient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was nothing short of amazing. I’m extremely interested in neuroscience and the history of the lobotomy — this book was the perfect intersection. Having read several books on memory and lobotomies, I was already familiar with the case of H.M. but this book explored who H.M. was as a person which was never allowed to enter into the scientific case studies.

Author Luke Dittrich writes from a very personal place since it was his own grandfather, Dr. Scoville, who performed the lobotomy on Patient H.M. and so many others, including his severely ill wife. In that sense, Dittrich often comes across at angry and occasionally petulant in his desire to defend all the good that his grandfather did while also mourning the horrors inflicted on unsuspecting patients.

This book is also raises important questions regarding medical and scientific ethics. The woman “in charge” of H.M.’s care during the final years of his life, was the woman whose career exploded into the limelight thanks to her research on H.M.. She also assigned H.M.’s guardian who was a man who was not at all invested in his care. This “scientist” closely guarded her own research and access to H.M. to keep others from learning more about the enigmatic patient. Dittrich also brought to light the possibility that research data might have been falsified. However, we’ll never know since she destroyed nearly all the records and test data prior to her death.

As an avid reader of science and history books, this was a wonderful read. Dittrich brings in enough science to keep those in the field engaged but he also makes it approachable for the causal reader. Writing from a very personal space, Dittrich brings to life the wonderful man known to most only as H.M.. Dittrich balances his disdain for his grandfather’s procedures with facts, figures, and light-hearted tales of growing up as Dr. Scoville’s grandson. Patient H.M. is an important tale of science gone awry and the dangers of being on the bleeding edge of medicine.