Booklist-ed



In their June 1 issue, Booklist offers a lovely and descriptive review for DKTBG:


Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life.


Beasley, Sandra (Author)
Jul 2011. 240 p. Crown, hardcover, $23.00. (9780307588111). 362.196.

Imagine a birthday cake made without dairy products or eggs. That’s what highly allergic author Beasley faces every year—hence her friends’ and relatives’ constant refrain, “Now, don’t kill the birthday girl.” As she notes, she’s hardly alone: more than 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with food allergies. She worries about whether she’ll add to that tally when she gives birth. Her book is full of interesting (and potentially lifesaving) tidbits: Play-Doh contains wheat. Tempera paints often contain egg. Moisturizing soap may contain soy proteins or cashew oil. Borden used to make Elmer’s glue with a milk derivative, casein. And French fries are a good choice for the highly allergic. (There are no hidden nuts, dairy, or eggs in them.) People with wheat allergies need to be careful at communion: A decade ago, Boston’s Roman Catholic Church affirmed its decree that rice-based wafers were an unacceptable substitute for the regular wheat-based variety. This information- and anecdote-filled book will be a welcome antidote to the worries and fears endured by families with food allergies.  — Karen Springen  

One thing I've loved about these advance reviews is seeing people respond to the research as well as the personal anecdotes. Though I wanted it to be a fun read, I wanted it to have nonfiction substance as well; a sense of "wow, I didn't know that." Maybe it's the teenage nerd in me but I'm fascinated by the medical dimension, the science at work. And I needed to incorporate the stories of others. Though food allergies are incredibly widespread, each individual's experience of allergies--between one's particular combination of allergens, the timeline of how they were discovered, and the style of physical reaction--is as unique as a thumbprint. 

Booklist is published by the American Library Association. (See that weird number after the ISBN, "362.196"? That is the Dewey Decimal coding for the section of books that offer "Services to patients with specific diseases.") I've written about my love for public libraries before, and I hope my book lands on shelves across the country. Sometimes people say they'd like to support my work, but they don't have the money to buy books right now. Hey, I write for a living. I completely understand empty-wallet syndrome. But if you can, ask your local library to order the book (my book, or books by other authors you love). That's truly a gesture that keeps on giving. 


What I like to imagine: a woman walks into the Tysons Pimmit regional branch (the library by my family's house in northern Virginia)--finds a plastic-slip-covered copy on the "New Release" shelf--and picks it up so she can tuck it into her summer tote bag. Maybe she's the mother of a kid with allergies. Maybe she's looking for a twist on her usual "food history" reading (Cod, Salt, The Zen of Fish). Maybe she couldn't resist the cupcake on the cover. For whatever reason, the woman I have been checks out a book by the woman I have become. This is my dream.