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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
In the hands of a less skillful writer, Sickened might have turned into one of those childhood memoirs, filled with stomach-churning images of unspeakable abuse, that has spawned a genre of their own. As it is, Julie Gregory's story, lyrically narrated in the pitch-perfect cadence of bewildered youth, soars above its difficult subject matter: growing up as a victim of a bizarre disorder called Munchausen by proxy.
Perpetrators of MBP (usually mothers) satisfy their need for attention by faking or inducing illness in their children. For years, Sandy Gregory (herself a victim of incest, rape, and child abuse) subjected her daughter to endless doctor's visits, tests, and unnecessary medical procedures. Julie's astonishing ordeal begins with matchstick "lollypop" poisonings. From there, she is routinely starved, her nose is surgically broken to correct an imaginary deviated septum, she is denied treatment for a broken wrist, and she undergoes an excruciating heart catheterization -- which, to Sandy's great disappointment, does not indicate the need for further surgery!
Betrayed by every adult in her life -- from her passive, complicit father to the battalion of teachers, doctors, and nurses who blindly buy her mother's act -- Julie is, nonetheless, shackled to Sandy by a powerful bond of codependent love. She manages to escape her crazy home, but she is an adult before she learns the truth behind her bizarre upbringing and begins a painful journey back to physical and mental health. It is Gregory's fervent hope that her story, harrowing as it is, will unmask this insidious disorder that robs children of their youth, their innocence, and -- far too often -- their lives. Anne Markowski