*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Superheroes aren’t sick.
This has been Allison Alexander’s observation, anyway. They don’t lie in bed all day because they’re in too much pain to get up. They don’t face the challenges of the chronically ill-difficulties that include socially inappropriate topics like mental illness, sex, and diarrhea. The latter, of course, would be exponentially worse in a spandex suit.
Alexander, who has struggled with a chronic illness since she was a child, wants to see herself in her heroes and uses examples from pop culture to demonstrate how sick characters should be portrayed in fiction. Weaving her own painful experiences with stories from other chronic sufferers, Alexander explores the various challenges of living with a never-ending illness. She engages with how society values healthiness, how doctors don’t always have answers, and how faith, friendship, and romance add pressure to already complicated situations.
In Super Sick, Allison Alexander perfectly captures the daily physical, mental and emotional tolls of living with chronic illness.
Alexander explores a wide range of examples from film, tv, books, comics and games to illustrate her explanations of both the realities of chronic illness and the accuracy of their fictional representations. She also uses her own experiences (IBS) to draw some very personal and moving comparisons with the fictional counterparts.
As a chronic illness sufferer myself (ME/CFS), it was just soooooo good to read these essays showing different sides of the portrayal of chronic illness in popular culture. Honestly, I cried. “This is me!”, I exclaimed. There is just no over-emphasising how important it is to be able to see yourself in fiction, or how grateful I felt to be seen and understood, to feel connected. It was wonderful to read a book where the author GETS it. Don’t get me wrong, I wish she didn’t, but as she does, I am glad that she has chosen to share it with the rest of us.
The whole book is written in a chatty, accessible style that turns what could be dry facts and depressing anecdotes into a cheerful, honest and entertaining easy-read. I don’t just want to read it over and over again, I want all of my loved ones to read it too, so they can get a light-hearted – but serious – glimpse into what life is like for all of us spoonie superheroes.
I would love to see more from this author on pop culture, illness, or any other subject she cares to cover, fictional or factual. She is clearly super-talented!
Chronic illness and disability are hard to write around if they aren’t the main crux of a story. Hence, we have many stories about cancer patients, but not so many about people who are important characters outside of their illnesses. Audiences want heroes to overcome their challenges, and chronic issues can’t be fixed. Many writers think that if their story features a character who is chronically ill, that story needs to be about that sickness. Because what else is there to say? Once you’re the victim of a chronic illness, you’re done.– Allison Alexander, Super Sick
Super Sick is available on Amazon right now!