Saturday, 2 November 2019

Woman of Few Words - Cheri Tannenbaum

During my days in the ‘Ed. biz’ I cam across dystonia for the first time when a child was thought to be suffering from the condition. (As it turned out, she wasn’t; when the going got tough she just let her legs go weak and she’d fall to the ground:-( ) I did some cursory research then but paid no more mind to it until I came across this book offered in a Librarything  Early Reviewers giveaway and my curiosity was aroused. So I was delighted when I was successful in securing a copy of the book. 

However this book is not merely about dystonia. Sure, there is some valuable and interesting information pertaining to the condition but the book is so much more. It is the account of how one woman refused to give in, (and, wow, she came close), to a life changing condition that threatened to engulf the very essence of her. In a sense it could have been any condition and I’m sure she would have responded similarly. Despite the challenges and often the humiliations of the condition  she didn’t let it destroy her . And as we go about our daily lives, whinging and whining about this and that, the trivia and outrages we construct in our privileged existence, a book like this demands we put it all into perspective and redefine the things that really matter. Reading it Cheri reminds me of one of those toys that you push down and no matter how hard you try to keep it down it just bounces straight back up again. 

Cheri’s account is refreshingly honest. She doesn’t shy away from what a sock in the guts this condition is and the detail of her surgeries and hospitalisations are quite chilling. She details too the raising of her family and how life, not just for her but for them as well, is affected by dystonia. You know that you are reading about an extraordinarily, strong woman. How, you might ask, does somebody deal with such a debilitating condition and remain creative, focused and motivated?

Thus brings me to another dominant feature of the book. Faith and belief. I was fascinated by the detail of life in Israel and the traditions and culture of modern Judaism. All though the book Cheri refers to her faith and how it defines her as a person accepting the condition she has developed as part of God’s plan for her.  But also the entire book is suffused with love. Love of God. Love of family and friends. Love of creativity. Love of life. It is a remarkably inspiring and uplifting account of dealing with the seemingly insurmountable hurdles life puts in our way. I feel privileged to have read it. 

My thanks to Librarything and Gefen Books for a copy of this book.

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