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Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life by [Beasley, Sandra]
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Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Intelligent and witty…enthralling…thoughtful and well-written.”
Publishers Weekly

"Award winner Beasley (e.g., Barnard Women Poets) offers a cultural study of living the “allergic life.” Library Journal

“Fascinating…humane and informative.”—Kirkus Reviews

"For readers who suffer from allergies, or care for someone who does, for parents who wonder why they can no longer send their child to school with the American staple, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or for anyone curious about how Sandra Beasley handles a lifelong challenge successfully, this book is for you. Winning, wise and humorous, you'll think twice when someone says, ‘Pass the peanuts.’”
Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Don't Sing at the Table
 
“Sandra Beasley’s memoir—so bright and lucid and compelling, so intelligent and affecting—is even more than a gripping tale of living with numerous, potentially deadly allergies.  Brilliantly combining her personal narrative with medical research and cultural analyses, Beasley’s memoir is ultimately an exploration of how we negotiate our vulnerable, permeable selves in a world that is filled equally with joy and harm.”  
Richard McCann, author of Mother of Sorrows
 
"Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl is much more than a compelling examination of food allergies—it’s a meditation on human fragility. Sandra Beasley has made visible the potential hazards of what so many of us take for granted and moves away from the body’s rejection of allergens into the story of what it means to live and love.  In sparkling prose, Beasley has written a memoir that becomes a remarkable mélange—undeniably informative...

About the Author

SANDRA BEASLEY is the author of the poetry collections I Was the Jukebox, winner of the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Theories of Falling, which won the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize. Her honors include a DCCAH Individual Artist Fellowship, the Friends of Literature Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers, Inc. She lives in Washington, D.C., where her prose has been featured in the Washington Post Magazine.


Product Details

  • File Size: 2415 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (July 12, 2011)
  • Publication Date: July 12, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004J4WKSS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,711 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Radar626 VINE VOICE on June 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It was with a bit of dread that I began to read this book. I've read many self told tales of misery and redemption over the years, and stopped choosing books of that genre as the overall tone became too self-absorbed ("No one else out of six billion people has had it worse than me."), self-promoting ("I cured myself and I can cure you, too!!") and a bit preachy ("If you don't do what I tell you, you will die a horrible, painful death."). What a delight it was when this book turned out to be so different.

With no shortage of humor and wit does the author give the story of her life with allergies. Some, such as dairy, pollens, eggs and nuts, are those we've all heard of. But honeydew melons? Cucumbers? It was interesting to see how some people have allergies to foods most of us would never even consider putting on a list of allergy inducing items. Her reactions to these items also ran the gamut from a mild reaction easily taken care of with Benadryl (which gets a huge plug in this book) or a race to the ER to prevent full anaphylactic shock. I also came away from this book with much more understanding of the isolation that must be felt by those with severe allergies. As a child, could you imagine how it would feel to be left out of a birthday party because the child's parents arranged for a petting zoo? I remember living in Michigan and taking a trip to the JIFFY factory, which as a third grader was very cool. As an adult, I can't imagine being the only child in all the third grade classes unable to go because of an allergy. Yet I don't feel pity for the author, but rather empathy, and I think that is one of the author's goals in writing this book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's tough to cook for people these days -- allergies galore, vegetarians, caffeine and sugar free folks, gluten sensitivities, lactose intolerances. It's easy to view all of this negatively, as if these overly fussy folks were willfully making our lives hard... and somehow perversely enjoying it.

But Sandra Beasley illuminates the terrors and complexities of the allergic life in such a winning way that you might just let go of your resentments. Until I read this book, I just couldn't imagine how allergies can shut down a person's life so completely. Ms. Beasley is allergic to everything you could imagine, from dairy foods, beef and shrimp to melons, mustard, cucumbers and nuts. "That's not somebody designed to survive, now, is it," opines a nutritionist in her fourth-grade class.

With humor and pathos, Ms. Beasley shows how allergies put many of the things we take for granted out of her reach. The food rituals of childhood that she couldn't share, the spontaneity of love that is denied her, the deadly perils that lie on every plate put before her. Her life is one tenuous day after another, her survival continually in the balance.

Ms. Beasley interweaves her personal story with research and data about allergies and allergic reactions. If you're not a fellow-sufferer, you might choose to skip over some of this very detailed information. But slow down when you come to her life story, because she tells it well.

I particularly cheered for Ms. Beasley when she goes alone to Galatoire's in the French Quarter of New Orleans and studies the menu carefully for something she can eat. A solicitous waiter assists her, and after a slight misstep, she has a meal to savor and remember. "The pleasure of each bite was intensified by the risk of trusting an unfamiliar city to take care of me," she writes. The reader comes away glad that she's being taken care of and that she is enjoying herself at last.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This thought-provoking book is half memoir/half research, relating not only the story of Sandra Beasley but the story of food allergies...at least as they are understood and handled in Western culture. Beasley manages a nice blend between the two, always a tricky balancing act, but a highly successful one: she at once gives a human face (her own) to a widespread problem and reveals how her personal issues are in fact issues that affect us all. I am lucky to have no food allergies in my immediate family, but one of my son's closest friends has a peanut allergy. A young teen, this boy is too old to be constantly monitored by his parents and too young to carefully monitor himself. Seeing to his safety is important for everyone around him, and that means being informed as to where the risks really are and aren't. With food allergies rapidly increasing, odds are good that even those who do not currently deal directly with a food-allergic friend or family member will.

Overall, the book packs in a ton of information in a pretty painless package. I would imagine it would make good reading for anyone--allergic or not.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sandra Beasley has penned a sharp and funny memoir that tells of the dangers of growing up with severe allergies. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, Ms. Beasley has adopted a nice sense of humor about her issues. Not having allergies, you don't realize how dangerous eating can be. Ms. Beasley details the surgical type approach one with allergies has to approach every meal. The simple act of just eating could end up killing her, but she is able to convey that dark side of life with scientific facts, good common sense and a wink and a smile. Anyone who has allergies has family members with allergies or just wants to read an entertaining book should check out Don't Kill The Birthday Girl.
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