There aren’t many books that I’ve read that I would have a difficult time placing within a specific genre, or at least spanned across a couple of distinct styles. The Fantastic Inner Life of an American Teenager, however, is a work that is in a class of its own, and that’s a good thing.
Part fiction, part reality, and pretty much all intensely inventive and imaginative, this real-life diary written by a teenage girl about some of the hopes and dreams that she had reveals multiple levels of the author’s reality. In fact, this book is the work of a girl named Desiree, AKA YAEL, who experienced a childhood and adolescence worlds apart from what many view as ‘normal’.
According to the editor, Regine Dubono (The author’s mother), YAEL suffered from mental illness from a young age and found family life to be a challenge. Due to those difficulties in coping with everyday events, the author was quickly labelled and placed within a mental hospital where she would be medicated to the point of losing much of her happiness and contentment that she had known before. What’s more is that due to the reaction of the medical staff charged with caring for Desiree, that same medication severely hampered her natural skill and talent as a playwright.
This book opens a window into the heart of the author and shows us just how incredibly talented she was. Her clarity in purpose while creating the scenes of her play are engaging and honest, and each line seems like a well-thought-out continuation of thoughts nurtured over time.
That said, it does take a bit of work to follow the trains of thought through to the end as there are several threads which are interwoven throughout the screenplay. There are references and concepts that jump in from out of the blue but once the writer’s mind and process is better understood, taking in this work becomes much smoother. It is different for sure, and it is eye-opening in many ways. If you are one to relish taking in the personality of the authors you read, The Fantastic Inner Life of an American Teenager will provide a full serving.
I would have appreciated footnotes and information from the editor that would have helped provide more background for certain times throughout the authors life while this diary was being written. I couldn’t help but think that I was missing pieces of vital information while reading. Other than that, this is an impressive work from an even more impressive teenage author.
Pages: 120 | ISBN: 9781312599161
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WEIRD – or Weird Consequences of a Bedbug Incident, by Regine Dubono is intended to help struggling families see things from a fresh perspective.
Desiree, the focal character in the story, suffers from several disabilities and regularly undergoes treatments for many of them, including mental illness, physical disabilities, and many others. Despite her many conditions, however, she was also highly talented in many ways.
Regine Dubono calls into question the modern psychiatric practice of creating within people a sense of weakness which should therefore be treated with any number of serious and life-altering psychiatric drugs.
The author brings a lot of things to focus through her story, but one of the most powerful is the fact that there is serious repercussions that come from taking these types of medications. Most notably, feelings of being helpless and dependent on the prescribed cocktail of pharmaceuticals. Even more, though, how damaging the wrong drugs can be for a person.
In fact, Desiree suffered the unfortunate fate of being experimented on through pharmaceutical trials on more than one occasion, ending up in states that seemed utterly hopeless, prompting ‘professional opinion’ to recommend Desiree to permanent hospitalization. It was only when she was allowed to stay clear from the drugs and given the personal agency to operate certain aspects of her life that she showed any real signs of improvement and comfort.
The moral of the story is clear and a much needed one at that. Parents, as well as anyone else acting as caretaker for a disabled person, should keep a close eye on the treatment programs and medications that are often administered. Are they doing more harm than good? Are they helping at all? Whatever the case may be, the author’s mission in writing this diary of events outlining Desiree’s life and experiences is to provide anecdotal evidence. The evidence suggests, among other things, that entrusting medical professionals to decisions related to the best interests of the patient is not always the best approach.
In terms of accessibility and style, the majority of Weird – or Weird Consequences of a Bedbug Incident is provided in diary form. As such, it reads as more of a collection of personal notes as opposed to being a dramatized novel. The situations are genuine. The times and places are all accurate. And the notes offered for all the various situations the author faced are about as eye opening as anything else in this category. This is certainly a unique work that deserves attention.
Pages: 220 | ASIN: 1329529731
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The Mom and Her Autistic Daughter by Regine Dubono is a fitting title for this book. Dubono explains the life and turmoil of Desiree, an adult with autism, and her mother. Desiree’s medicines’ effects and side effects are explored. The struggle to find Desiree a long term living arrangement becomes a source of contention between Desiree, Desiree’s mother, and her caregivers. Her mother finds it difficult to find balance for herself and her daughter while playing a deck that seems stacked against them.
The author delves into Desiree’s everyday life which feels tumultuous at best. Desiree has parts of her life she enjoys such as shopping and manicures, but everything apart from that feels tense. In working in Special Education I have found in the past that this is pretty typical of autistic children. I assume that would generally carry over into adulthood as it has with Desiree. My students have had areas they excel in and become almost obsessive about their particular interests. Anything else feels boring or daunting. Any deviation from their schedule can also cause a tailspin or meltdown. These are things that readers who have not worked with people with autism may not know and may learn from the book.
I’ve also had a bit of experience in dealing with drugs and their side effects while caring for my father. Dubono explores how drugs may “fix” one issue, but cause many more. One drug may also cause further symptoms that need to be controlled, thus producing the need for more drugs. These are frustrating waters to navigate. Readers may get more of a grasp of how many pharmaceutical companies and drug-pushing doctors work in this aspect. This part of the book is especially pertinent in today’s social climate.
Dubono’s explanation of the struggles in finding Desiree a permanent and sufficient placement especially hit home for me. Many readers who have dealt with this kind of thing will be able to sympathize with the accounts she gives. It is extremely hard to find caregivers for adults. It would be exponentially harder to find care for those who are prone to have outbursts and labelled as “difficult.” Clean and suitable facilities and genuinely caring and qualified caregivers aren’t always readily available. My family knows that from experience. Anyone who has dealt with this will find her accounts relatable.
The structure of the book feels somewhat lacking and feels repetitive at times. One letter in particular that is written by the mother is repeated almost verbatim in another part of the book. I had to flip back to make sure I hadn’t lost my place. There are quite a few grammatical and spelling errors throughout the book. There are also many abbreviations that are left unexplained. There is substance in the experiences and relationship of the mother and daughter, but the book doesn’t flow as well as I would have liked it to. I think the book would benefit greatly from an editor and proofreader.
There are important lessons to be learned here. This is a story that should be told as a cautionary tale and to help parents or guardians not feel alone in this situation. Desiree’s voice should be heard, I just think the book could use some revision and restructuring.
Pages: 123 | ASIN: B07H5RCYB5
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The Surrogate is a medical thriller about a nurse that undergoes in vitro fertilization and then realizes that some of her eggs have been stolen. This sets off a dramatic chain of events. What was your inspiration for creating a medical thriller involving IVF?
IVF is an area that has a lot of mystique and attraction, especially to women. Some become either more concentrated or fixed on having a baby or obsessed with having a baby in some cases. It is also big business, which is not something that a lot of people are aware of. The potential for the problems described in The Surrogate definitely exists. And I didn’t even address issues with sex-selective abortion and selecting for certain characteristics such as intelligence, strength, attractiveness.
Through the story Marina is fighting against corporate greed. Do you think that corporate greed is prevalent in real world medicine?
Corporate greed is definitely present in real medicine, great examples are elective surgical procedures, IVF, cosmetic surgery, medication prices, and executive salaries at nonprofit hospitals.
In the book synopsis you state that IVF is in a ‘very corporate world’. Do you think there is anything in The Surrogate that can only happen in a story? Is there anything in your book that you think happens in real life?
While I cannot comment on what actually happens in real life, I can definitely say that the potential for much of the Surrogate exists in real life.
The Surrogate has many well developed characters. What was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character is Marina because she is a prototype for many people that do work in healthcare field. She was the easiest to develope her complex characteristics and personality.
Marina Bonnaserra, a young administrative nurse realizes that her life as a SINK lacks any deeper meaning. Prodded on by a series of piercing comments, she considers having a child. Knowing that the only man in her life is non-committal, and against fatherhood, she explores in vitro fertilization. In the very corporate world of IVF, Marina is stimulated to produce eggs, rapidly assigned an anonymous sperm donor, and awaits implantation. She soon discovers that not all of her fertilized eggs can be accounted for, leading her to a desperate quest against corporate greed to locate her own missing “products of conception.” Can her one passion protect her from her one obsession?
Posted in Interviews
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