Praise for Carrier
“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 . . . 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.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Rough a fine writer with a talent for portraying subtle family dynamics. When she writes as herself, she is often quite moving-particularly when she deals with the possibility of passing HED to her unborn child and her pain as she receives the fateful genetic-test results. An . . . engaging memoir that provides a much-needed window into how serious genetic conditions affect families.” Kirkus Reviews
“Rough’s first-person account of carrying the gene for hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia includes monologues by her grandfather Earl, who died when she was a baby. His illness from the genetic disordercharacterized by sparse hair, cone-shaped teeth, inability to sweat, and distinctive facial features, including a deformed noseis carried invisibly by mothers and passed to sons . . . Readers will be moved by her emotional pain, but equally affecting is Earl’s . . . his is the haunting voice of the past that overshadows the present in this compelling read.” Booklist
“Bonnie Rough’s search is a myth for our time, and her book a necessary read for anyone who faces the implacable destinies of inheritance.” Honor Moore, author of The Bishop’s Daughter
“Bonnie Rough has crafted a memoir like no other: lyrical, investigative, haunting, and tender, all fueled by a powerful imagination and fiery intelligence unlike any other in the literary cosmos. Carrier is boundary-busting nonfiction at its finest. This is a book I will not only recommend widely but teach for years to come.” Robin Hemley, author of Do-Over!
“There are many things to praise in Bonnie Rough’s deeply felt memoir, in her report from the brave new world, but most striking are her compassion and her wisdom as she navigates the harrowing choices, the complex choices that medical technology allows us.” Jane Hamilton, author of When Madeline Was Young
In her debut, Rough explores her family's history with a rare genetic condition and how it has affected her life. The symptoms of hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (HED) include the inability to sweat or produce tears, and other physical traits such as sparse hair, few and strangely shaped teeth and dry, nearly hairless skin. In the X-linked form of the condition, the gene is carried by females and manifests in males. The author's grandfather and brother suffered from the condition. Rough's mother is a carrier, and, as she discovered, so is Rough herself. A large part of this highly personal memoir deals with the author's quest to find out more about her HED-affected grandfather, Earl. He underwent a lifetime of breathing problems and constant infections, aggravated by mucous-membrane problems, and likely a suppressed immune system. He also developed a severe drug addiction brought on by the pain of his illnesses. At one point, he was given shock treatments in a psychiatric hospital; later, his wife divorced him. He eventually died at age 49, broke and alone. The author ably shows how HED devastated Earl's and his family's lives, but the story's effectiveness is compromised by some of Rough's stylistic choices-in particular, the narration of much of the story from Earl's first-person point of view. The author also writes that she re-created conversations and details using "disciplined imagination," an odd designation. Nonetheless, Rough a fine writer with a talent for portraying subtle family dynamics. When she writes as herself, she is often quite moving-particularly when she deals with the possibility of passing HED to her unborn child and her pain as she receives the fatefulgenetic-test results. An uneven but often engaging memoir that provides a much-needed window into how serious genetic conditions affect families.