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You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know Hardcover – October 14, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As a child, Sellers moved between households; her alcoholic father drank all night, slept all day, and wore women's clothing on evenings out. Her schizophrenic mother provided no respite; windows were nailed shut in her house, light bulbs were bare, sponge baths were taken in the garage. Sellers remembers watching kids play and "wondering which ones had mothers who would adopt an extra girl." But it's her realization that she suffers from prosopagnosia (face blindness) that ultimately propels her to seek professional help. At her core, she learns, she is a product of her condition; she'd never married, had no children, constantly sought new houses, jobs, cities, people. She was "only comfortable in ambivalence." To recover she must utterly change her life. In one excruciating incident, Seller's listens to a companion complain about a co-worker seated, unbeknownst to her coworker, nearby; though Sellers can see him, she can't recognize him, ultimately ruining another friendship. But with the help of a therapist, Sellers begins telling people about her condition. Sellers handles the jagged transitions between past and present deftly, explaining her life as a story of "how we love each other in spite of immense limitations." (Oct.)
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From Booklist

Her mother was a paranoid schizophrenic who nailed shut the windows of her Florida home, draped sheets over the television, and believed she was the target of government agents. Her father was a gin-swigging cross-dresser who took swings at her with a cast-iron skillet. No wonder then that Sellers feared she herself might be crazy when she realized that she was unable to reliably recognize the faces of friends, colleagues, even family members when she saw them on the street. Eventually diagnosed with the rare neurological disorder prosopagnosia, otherwise known as face blindness, Sellers was relieved to learn she wasn’t mentally ill, yet struggled to find a way to cope with her disorder. With buoyant honesty and vibrant charm, Sellers paints a spirited portrait of a dysfunctional family and a woman who nearly loses herself in her attempts to deny their abnormalities. Sure to appeal to fans of The Glass Castle (2005), Sellers limns an acutely perceptive tale of triumph over parental and physical shackles. --Carol Haggas

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; First Edition edition (October 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594487731
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594487736
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,505,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This isn't my usual thing - typically, stories of broken families and troubled childhood hit a little too close to home for me. But several years ago, something made me read Heather Sellers' fiction collection, 'Georgia Under Water,' and I remember being impressed by her narrative talent and her honesty. I was curious to see what insight that would bring to her own story, and intrigued by a new word: prosopagnosia.

Heather Sellers has to work harder than many of us. She can't simply recognize someone by the shape of their nose or the set of their eyes. She has to look closer, look harder, get to know how someone walks or how they tilt their head when they talk or how they prefer their haircut. A simple thing like a change of clothes or a new haircut can throw her off, because she is face-blind. This condition, also known by that amazing new word "prosopagnosia," is medically recognized but hard to detect. How would you know you can't see faces unless you have seen faces? Sellers went through most of her life without knowing about face blindness or how deeply it affected her life. 'You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know' is the story of her discovery, and how once she knew, how it changed everything.

It may seem a simple thing at first, like not being able to remember someone's name at first, or forgetting important dates, but through Sellers' sharp and observant words I came to know just how deep it runs, how fundamental and complex the process seeing faces really is. In the book, she doesn't jump right in and talk about the disorder - she let me, her reader, discover it as she did, by living pieces of her life as she saw them.

The stories she tells are not always pleasant.
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Format: Hardcover
Prepare yourself for sorrow and stark reality in You Don't Look like Anyone I Know. Illness propels this memoir, but the author's self-discovery of her face blindness and demands that her neurologist properly diagnose her far outweighed any disquietude experienced by this reader.

Coping with face blindness, the inability to recognize faces reliably seemed to me a secondary theme of this incredible memoir. Ms. Sellers' real triumph was surviving the war zone created by the illnesses of her parents. Her mother's paranoid tendencies, magnified by her protective instincts toward her children, were bizarre. Desperately desirous but fearful of seeing her father, Sellers manages to come to grips with his philandering and cross-dressing.

In her book trailer, Ms. Sellers explains that prosopagnosia is a memory not a visual problem. She writes charitably and honestly about the family that branded her the crazy one. I didn't mind that her writing lacked cohesion at times. I thought it accurately reflected the chaos of her childhood. She manages to keep enough distance between herself and her story that I saw no self-pity. Rather she spoke graciously of her parents. At the end of her memoir she states that "deeply flawed love and deeply flawed vision can coexist."

Reviewing a disturbing book is difficult. Many other reviewers have complained about yet another "disturbing childhood/dysfunctional family memoir." I agree many of those exist, but I submit that a book review is just that--a comment on the world the author has painted, not a woe-is-me about the reviewer's reading history.

Despite the title, I found this memoir less about face blindness and more about the strength Ms. Sellers gleaned from her survival and her courage to trust her own perceptions.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
After an offhand comment by one of her high school classmates, Heather Sellers begins to realize maybe her "quirky" mother isn't so much eccentric as truly mentally ill, and begins a personal investigation into not only her mother's undiagnosed schizophrenia, but also Sellers' own issue- her inability to recognize people (including her own husband and step-sons) and the effect it has on her own life.

Other reviewers have commented this book was sad, but I actually disagree, I'm a somewhat sensitive reader, and I *really* don't like books that put me through the emotional wringer. "You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know" isn't like that at all- it's compelling without being emotionally exhausting. Sellers goes into enough detail to pull the reader in, but doesn't force us to feel the extreme sadness and confusion that she most likely felt as she experienced all these strange and heartbreaking events with her family.

Actually, the saddest part of the book was after Sellers herself was diagnosed with prosopagnosia (face blindness)- she struggled for a long time to find the courage to tell people that she trusted about the condition, and almost every single one of them dismissed her and called her a hypochondriac. That astounded and enraged me, more so than anything any member of her family did. I truly hope Sellers has found the support and love from her community that she needs to continue progressing. She certainly deserves it.

I really enjoyed this book- it wasn't a light, cheerful read, but I feel like I gained a lot from it. I would highly recommend it, even for sensitive readers.
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