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Passing as Normal,
This review is from: Passing for Normal: Tourette's, OCD and Growing Up Crazy (Pocket Books) (Paperback)
I think it must have taken a lot of guts to write this book. There s a genre of autobiography which is confessional and voyeuristic to the point of tedium and " Passing for Normal" could quite easily become one of these. However the author Amy Wilensky is restrained where a lesser writer could have been verbose and accusatory of the people around her.
The book opens within the "present" when she and her friend Bryant, a fellow sufferer of Tourette's Syndrome and OCD attend their first group therapy session with other sufferers of the conditions. The scene she describes of the distorted facial expressions, hoots and odd tics is both funny and sad and introduces the reader to the odd social nature of this debilitating condition.
We then go back in time when Amy is eight and in her beloved ballet class when independent of her will her head twists to one side in an awkward position and her eyes roll. She did know what it was at the time but this was the first of the socially embarrassing and physically and emotionally draining "tics" that were to plague her from then on.
She then describes the responses of her family, the teasing of her younger sister,the well meaning but off the mark kindness of her mother and the contempt and derision of her stiff and controlling father. It was his constant antagonism which made the mealtimes a nightmare for the author which for me was one of the most painful sections of the book.
The subsequent chapters talk about her school years, and college and her early attempts at forming meaningful relationships. People around her either thought she was weird,cool or insane depending on where they were holding and the way she handled most situations particularly bullying demonstrated immense self-control and self-knowledge.
The book itself has some surprising conclusions about her own family she reveals more about the condition and its causes.