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Sick Girl Paperback – October 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Silverstein's memoir offers a rare glimpse at life as an organ-transplant recipient. She was a young law student when the first signs of a deadly virus in her heart appeared. When her doctor said she merely needed to keep her stress in check and add salt to her diet, she happily complied. At 25, after several months of terrifying symptoms and misdiagnoses, she received a heart transplant. Like all organ recipients, to prevent her body from rejecting her new heart, she depends on high doses of immunosuppressants—bitter poison that leaves her nauseous, trembling, aching, and highly vulnerable to infection—for the rest of her life, which was only expected to last another 10 years. To better her chances, she heeded her doctors' advice, sacrificing everything from coffee to alcohol to pregnancy. Still, it seemed that the best she could hope for was the illusion of a normal life, so she kept her body's punishing blows from her friends, her adopted son and at times even from her loving husband, her ever-confident coach through years of devastating illness. [T]o make myself 'normal' again would be the most extraordinary feat that I would never quite accomplish she writes. Now, more than 17 years after her transplant, Silverstein reflects on the often misunderstood journey through the torments of being saved in a stirring story of survival and unyielding love. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Amy Silverstein is not an easy patient, with good reason. She has lived nineteen long years with a transplanted heart, much longer than any doctor could have predicted. And she has, arguably, done more with a transplanted heart than anyone else, including the publication of this remarkable book. It documents her fears, frustrations, anger, and perseverance. She recognizes that the world expects a simpering bundle of gratitude. In her compelling memoir, Sick Girl, Amy delivers a searing insight into the battle to stay alive. And yet, there is also love and humor, and a radiant courage."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802143873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802143877
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,223,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany Christensen on January 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Amy's illness journey was an interesting one. By all practical/statistical accounts, her life is a profound success story. As a double lung transplant recipient, I can only dream and hope to live as long as Amy has since her heart transplant.
Sadly, the book begins with Amy contemplating stopping her transplant meds as a way of ending "the torture of survival" and leaving behind her saintly husband and beloved son. For her, these 19 years have not been successful, they have been almost unbearable.
It was painful reading this book--I had to put it down often. Amy portrays herself as woman who seems to resent even the idea of looking at the positive side of things. She has locked herself in a mental pattern of self-pity. For example, she lists all of these things she has had to cut out of her life because they are too closely associated with a traumatic medical event. This ranges from certain foods to a certain outfit. To this day, she will not put her hand on her husband's knee when he is driving because it reminds her of a horrible ride to the hospital. This is where I think choice comes into play. In this situation, she has chosen to embrace the trauma instead of embrace the new day. This I find to be extraordinarily tragic.
This is Amy's story and she has a right to tell it as it is. My only fear is for those awaiting transplant and for those who may have been, or will someday be, in the position to donate a loved one's organs and save lives. Please do not think that Amy's story is consistent with what it is for everyone post-transplant. I, for one, am happy to live a shorter life with medical ups and downs--it is worth the trade to be here with those I love.
There are many "sick girls" out there--Amy seems to feel as though she is the only one who knows suffering.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Lea on February 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was a difficult book to read. In many ways. Having been a cancer patient and having had chronic pain, i know too well how difficult it is to try and "buck up" be the nice patient. I know too well how much disdain doctors, nurses, medical professionals DO have for patients who don't behave in ways they deem acceptable. I have seen the blatant disregard in their expressions when you behave in bad patient mode, so it is no surprise that Amy Silverstein chose to tell her side of what its like to be a "sick girl".

Unfortunately, that's all Amy does. This book is one long Middle finger to the medical community and to all her acquaintances and friends who didn't understand how difficult its been for her to live day to day. Its astounding that she has been able to spend the better part of her adult years with as little self understanding as she had at 24.
Amy is a smart girl yes, but not an emotionally smart one. She never feels the need to search out other ways of thinking, or philosophies, or metaphysics, or anything that would help her stop blaming everyone else. at the very least she needed therapy. Amy took responsibility to stay alive when she was first diagnosed, she made that pact with herself and that IS commendable, but the end result was that she expected the world to cheer and applaud her daily effort , and because they were human, and couldn't, and didn't, we were subject to her book length rant. Its amazing that she was able to escape therapy, that no one forced her to get some kind of emotional insight and help. Saving this woman's body but not addressing her mind was not to her benefit.

I can well imagine how little grace of life is left after consistent illness such as hers, i can, and i do have tremendous sympathy for that.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Sterling McKay on December 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read this book because I had an uncle who recently passed away due to complications from Type 1 diabetes. During the past few years, he received both a donor kidney (from my mother) and a donor pancreas. He was forced to make some difficult choices and I hoped this book would help me understand how he made those choices and what exactly the consequences were.

Amy loves to proclaim, "My goal was to be normal". I bought that before I read the book; however, about 150 pages in, it occurred to me that her goal was never to be normal. Her goal was to obtain sympathy from the world at large while hiding behind a facade of modest fortitude. There were very few traces of honest strength throughout this book. There were tantrums in doctor offices, awkward and condescending conversations with friends, and a LOT of self-pity.

Please don't get me wrong. I can hardly begin to imagine the difficulty of being a transplant recipient. However, it disappoints me that the author of this book acknowledges maybe once or twice the miracle that is her donor heart (in addition to the miracle that is her DONOR, a young girl who lost her life in a car accident). She seems much more driven to establish just how hard she has it, this fact materializing itself in constant reminders that it would be easier to either refuse the transplant or take her own life post-transplant. She was not given a choice between perfection and death. She was given a choice between LIFE and death. She chose. Now instead of spending her time enjoying her family, she makes those around her cringe with pseudo-empathy.

Believe me, Amy. We know that it is hard. We know that transplants are not cures and that they give rise to a host of other medical problems and struggles.
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