Book and Movie Reviews
Jessica: The autobiography of an infant
by Jeffrey Von Glahn, Ph.D.
I think it makes it both harder and easier when the book read is an autobiography. The people depicted are real, not fantasy. And if the author is sticking strictly to truth, there's not much to say about that. It's real. It happened. So I can't "review" it as I would a fiction.
My first thought on reading the blurb for Jessica was another woman of that time - Sybil. Some of my readers may know the story of Sybil. She was diagnosed with multiple personalities. It's been a long time, but I seem to remember Sybil was the first person diagnosed with it, and at the time, most people didn't believe it. So I was thinking another Sybil, but no, it wasn't.
The first half of the book must have been written after the second part. Because it follows Jessica in her day to day activities. As Dr. Van Glahn didn't "know" Jessica at this point in the 'story', he couldn't have known these things until after the 'story' was finished. It shows her as other people see her, and with some internal (and unexplained because Jessica doesn't know either) problems and conflicts. I can see some readers will be very attracted to this part of the book. Perhaps it will remind them of someone in their real life. It is strangely compelling reading. But for me, the book didn't really start until halfway through, when the author got involved personally, and Jessica started talking. I found it fascinating (which is slightly creepy, Jessica is a person, not an idea that I can study and be fascinated with)
Jessica remembers her birth. She remembers details of the operating theater. She remembers things that people generally don't. And that part did remind me of Sybil, in that a lot of people won't believe it. At one point, I suspected it was a pro-life agenda book, in a format that allowed the reader to see it 'from the baby's pov'. But that thought didn't last long, there were too many other subjects.
The story wasn't just about Jessica though (or her mother, very much part of the story), it was also about Dr. Van Glahn. I'm not sure if he realizes how much he talked about himself. How open he was about himself. The story was almost as much about him, and his journey, as it was about her journey. Yet, I felt I needed that openness to balance out Jessica's instinctive closure. If it had only been Jessica's side, it would have been a frustrating book to read.
The end felt very rushed. It went from the last, crumbling wall to 'cured' in like a couple of pages. And the one thing I'd really looked for, and found missing, was the rebuilding. I never saw Jessica putting all the pieces back together. Her broken tea cup was not repaired where I could see - it was done, we're told, she's moved on and grown, we're told.
The thing I want to see with these 'i was sick but healed' books, is the actual healing. I want to see them rebuild themselves, and in Jessica's case, accept, love and appreciate her 'me'. It's because I didn't get to see that part, and the rushed ending, that the book gets a 4 star and not a 5.
The people who will be attracted to this type of book doesn't need my recommendation. Those who wouldn't necessarily read this, I do recommend you do. It won't change your life (then again, it might) but it might give you some insights into infants and the repercussions of how we interact with them.
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