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Finding My Voice Hardcover – August 24, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (August 24, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375401636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375401633
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,127,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a curiously unemotional account of a life rich in contradictions, the host of the nationally syndicated Diane Rehm Show on National Public Radio may leave readers wanting more. The child of a beautiful, cruel mother who beat her and used silent withdrawal as a form of punishment, Rehm built a rewarding career on talk. Her parents, both Turkish immigrants, had a loving marriage in which her mother's needs and wishes were paramount; meanwhile, Rehm and her older sister found warmth and acceptance in her father's extended family. Despite being a star pupil and, later, a smart, inquisitive woman, Rehm was insecure about her lack of a college degree. Her second marriage was to an Ivy League Washington lawyer, who also retreated into silence. At age 37, her career in broadcasting was spurred by the urging of her women's group, though Rehm says simply, "I don't know why." After 20 years on the radio, she developed a rare neurological disorder, spasmodic dysphonia, which causes hoarseness and vocal tremors. Her search for a diagnosis and the awful treatment, Botox injections, which cause temporary paralysis of the vocal chords and loss of voice, was covered in the Washington Post. Rather than delving deeply into her feelings, Rehm substitutes details about her high school boyfriends, piano lessons and prescription medicines that are less interesting than her family's mysteries, her relationship with her sister and the lessons of her marriage, which has been largely satisfying. Despite her potential to inspire others, as a self-made "late bloomer," abuse survivor and spokesperson for her disease, Rehm leaves her readers to connect the dots. Agent, Ronald Goldfarb; 10-city author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Rehm, host of her own nationally syndicated call-in talk show on National Public Radio, writes of the challenges and triumphs in her life. In the first and most fascinating section of this book, she recounts her childhood in a Syrian Orthodox household, where she endured terrifying physical and emotional abuse at her mother's hands, and her escape to the working world of Washington, DC. She then describes her beginnings in public radio as a volunteer, her rise to broadcaster, and her life as a wife and mother in a difficult marriage. In the book's final section, she writes about her battle with a neurological disorder, Spasmodic Dysphonia. Unfortunately, no transcripts are included from the radio program, in which she interviews luminaries from politics and the arts. The forced segments in which Rehm discusses her faith in God and her husband's conversion seem last-minute, as if to turn an interesting autobiography into an inspirational title. Recommended for public libraries.ALisa N. Johnston, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By L. Feld on January 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As a big fan of "The Diane Rehm Show," I guess I'm somewhat biased, but I truly think this is an excellent, honest, heartfelt book. In "Finding My Voice," Diane comes across as the same admirable person we all know from her radio talk show --honest, direct, curious (about ideas and above all about people), down-to-earth, warm, caring, determined (even stubborn) and - despite her lack of a college degree (who cares?!?) - highly intelligent. In my opinion, the really interesting parts of the book deal less with Spasmodic Dysphonia than with: 1) Diane growing up as a girl in a traditional Arab-American family in the 1940s and early 1950s with a depressed, anxious, abusive mother; 2) the obstacles (professional, personal) which Diane -- and many talented young women -- were forced to overcome to achieve something for themselves in the male-dominated society of the 1950s and 1960s; 3) Diane "finding her voice" in a growing radio career, and in a broader sense the overall growth of talk radio - for better ("The Diane Rehm Show" and others where people can have a civilized discussion and actually are encouraged to think for themselves) and for worse (Rush Limbaugh and "Dr. Laura" - blech - where people berate each other, preach to each other, or mindlessly "ditto" the host); and 4) Diane's constant struggles to overcome deepseated feelings of insecurity and of not being worthy, despite (or even fueled by) her growing outward success.
Besides that, there are also some memorable moments with some really bizarre/obnoxious guests - Tony Randall and Tom Clancy stand out in particular - and some really excellent ones - Race Hoss and Jimmy Carter, for instance.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in about two or three days, and had a hard time putting it down. Diane's writing takes on the familiar warm and friendly tone of voice her listeners have grown to love. In this book she writes openly of her very personal struggle of coping with the stresses of her life. I was very moved at times, sometimes laughing and cheering out loud, my jaw dropped in awe and surprise at others, and my heart sank at some of the crushing blows she's been dealt, both from within and without. A highly recommended book for both fans of the Diane Rehm Show and/or anyone interested in a fascinating human story.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
"Finding My Voice" is as interesting, moving and uplifting as anything you'll read this or any year. Diane Rehm, the noted NPR radio host from Washington, DC, tells of her fascinating and often difficult life with amazing grace and openness. A daughter of Middle Eastern immigrants, Diane Rehm's childhood was marked by loneliness and occasional violence, yet she persevered and eventually raised a family. She unexpectedly en- tered broadcasting in her late thirties and joined
WAMU, Washington's public radio station, to deve- lop one of America's unique and thoughtful talk shows- now syndicated to many NPR stations. Nothing, however, prepared Diane for the ul- timate challenge- a mysterious condition that rendered her voice nearly mute. After years of therapy, she was diagnosed with spasmodic dyspho- nia- a rare neurological disorder affecting vocal cords. Through treatment, therapy and faith, she has returned to the air- and received much support from both prominent Washingtonians and her regular listeners. More than a "disease of the week" story, "Finding My Voice" is a moving and incredibly thoughtful look at a woman you'll be proud to know. You'll walk every step of the way with Diane as she tells her many stories- some painful, some joyous- and shares her many meaningful views on the media, on family, and on life. This is one of the few books that I feel will make a difference in my life. You won't forget Diane Rehm- I know I won't.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mel Dubovick ( on September 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Diane Rehm shows that even celebrities can have insecurities and be vulnerable to life's ups and downs. She shows true-grit to not only overcome typical childhood and adult difficulties but also the rare speech disorder known as Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD). As a fellow-SD'er, I also have a need to "find my voice" as I work for a major international corporation. Despite faxes and email, it is necessary to communicate in person. So I fully understand what Diane has been going through.
"Finding my Voice" is an excellent vehicle for people needing some motivation to overcome any adversity, especially those with vocal difficulties. She finally gets to discuss her Spasmodic Dysphonia on page 187 and it continues through to book's end on page 246.
She only briefing touches on the fact that there is an international support group for Spasmodic Dysphonia. NSDA provides education, information, contacts, literature and commaradrie. Those with a computer can reach the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association (NSDA) at Their support can be as much or as little as you want.
Diane's book provides a good foundation to get to know her as a person, starting at early childhood and going through to present day. She is truly an inspiration to anyone facing adversity.
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