Monday, May 29, 2006

Sickened by Julie Gregory

Author: Susan Gregory
ISBN # 0099466295
Publisher: Arrow Books
1st Published: 2003
305 pages

Sickened is the memoir of Julie Gregory, who grew up in a backwoods country trailer in southern Ohio. Her mother's life -- lived in desperate isolation -- sought a means to escape by dressing in pastels and running Julie to different doctors. At first it was little things -- headaches, sore throats and the medications they came with -- but eventually Julie's mother was in hot pursuit of a mysterious heart condition and the open heart surgery she was convinced would give it a name. Racing against the clock for the cure, Julie was continually x-rayed, medicated and eventually operated on, all in the vain pursuit of an illness that was created in her mother's mind -- and literally left her own child sickened.

Punctuated with Julie's actual medical records, this memoir re-creates the bizarre cocoon of her family's isolated double-wide, their wild Value City shopping sprees, gun-waving confrontations, and the astonishing naïveté of medical professionals and social workers. It also exposes the twisted bonds of terror and love that roped Julie's family together -- including the love that made a child willing to sacrifice herself to win her mother's happiness.

I think I perhaps read this too soon after reading the Dave Pelzer trilogy as I didn’t find it as shocking or disturbing as I thought I would (although there is no denying that it is indeed shocking and disturbing). I found the narrative dull and plodding and eventually ended up scanning over passages to get to the next “important” moment. The atrocities that Julie suffered due to her mother’s obsession are undeniably gruesome, but the style of writing did nothing to draw me into her story and questions were, for me, largely left unanswered. It’s an interesting look at a case study of Munchausen’s by Proxy – a little understood condition – but I didn’t feel at all uplifted or inspired by this story, as any action seemed to just happen without any explanation.

Rating: 6


Post a Comment

<< Home