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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Noel E. Phillips, D.Min.(Salem Hospital)
Description: This is a survey of books, mostly personal narratives, written by people who have experienced illness and disability. It's a book about literature, not about illness and disability. After surveying the literature on the human condition of sick people and the psychology of illness in general, it then focuses on four areas: breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, paralysis, and deafness.
Purpose: According to the author, the purpose is to inform readers about the literature available in the area of illness and disability. The author's goal is worthy, but there is so much comparison between works that the survey becomes jumbled and confused and disoriented. It covers too many books to be able to treat any of them with the depth that would guide the reader in understanding them.
Audience: The author states that his target audience is the lay reader. Unfortunately, his language is very academic. The book reads more like the research for a doctoral dissertation or notes for a research project rather than a book aimed at the lay reader. Because the author overanalyzes and overcompares the books, the reader is not inspired to read the original works on his/her own.
Features: Research and references are pertinent and current. The bibliography is good. The table of contents is too general and does not include the subtitles and topics within each chapter. For example, the chapter on breast cancer has 11 distinct subsections. The skimpy four-page index is inadequate because it has too many page references for authors, but comparatively few page references for topics.
Assessment: The book fails to reach the author's goal of informing his readers. The author demonstrates his ability to do research and collect and survey the literature, but he is unable to make the material real to the reader. It is too academic and too wordy and provides too much of the author's own opinion. While the author approaches the subject from a literary standpoint, the subjects of illness and disability are really very subjective and personal. The reader is likely, therefore, to be disappointed.