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What is so amazing about Rough's struggle with her DNA destiny is not just the impossibly tough choices she faces in planning her own future, but the raw courage she exhibits in dealing with the choices made by the generations before her. A carrier of the rare genetic condition hypohidrotic ectoderm dysphasia, which condemns sufferers to a lifetime of debilitating infections, chronic respiratory ailments, and recurring skin rashes, Rough reports that her grandfather and brother were scarred by the disease, leaving their wives, mothers, and daughters helpless and angry. She reflects on the story of Earl, her brilliant grandfather, who died a penniless drug addict. In alternating chapters, she writes in the voices of Earl and Paula, her mother. These vignettes serve as poignant portrayals of their pain, not simply because of a crippling disease, but also the powerlessness they feel over it. "Should he just bear all of this?" Earl's wife asks Paula. "Yes," she replies, "for us." This is a story that will resonate for anyone who grew up in a family with a relative suffering from a chronic illness or addiction.
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