3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
After experiencing undiagnosed brain injuries, Jeff Gould's life was plagued by despondency, self-destructive behavior, and addiction. Gould's dark narrative follows his attempts to quiet his inner demons through punk subculture, self-medication, and drug labs, culminating in criminal charges and homelessness. From struggling to survive to eventually finding healing through therapy and meditation, Gould chronicles his journey in his poignant memoir, A Life Concussed.
Gould's 192-page memoir is a brutally honest portrayal of a life characterized by addiction and homelessness due to undiagnosed traumatic brain injuries. His gritty first-person narrative retraces his steps as he identifies his injuries and changes in his thinking and behavior. Readers who have struggled with addiction personally or supported an addictive family member will relate to Gould's family dynamics. With heartrending honesty, he described how his disease prematurely aged his mother and constantly overshadowed significant milestones in his sister's life, as well as her understandable resentment: "It is for her sake, for all of their sakes, that I write this as a recognition of their days spent in worry, trying to control their emotions and push through an embattled life, caring for a fallen son and brother who--in the end--had been buried mentally by them out of sheer necessity."
Sensitive readers should be aware that portions of the book are difficult to read. Gould doesn't sugarcoat the effects of his substance abuse or what it is like living homeless. In the same vein, the book includes profanity, descriptions of drug use, and gory details related to his accidents and injuries. However, I most appreciate Gould's unflinching transparency and determination to take responsibility for his actions, including repaying debts and righting wrongs to the best of his ability. This is reflected by the fact that he turned himself in and his statement to the judge presiding over his case: "Your honor, whatever it says I did, I did do. That, and more. I am just here because I have been taught to be accountable for my actions, and whatever you think best suits me in terms of consequence, I am at peace with."
On the other hand, my least favorite aspect of the book is that portions of the timeline seem disjointed and are difficult to follow. When recalling traumatic events, Gould doesn't always clarify when they happened.
Overall, I rate A Life Concussed 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend the edgy memoir to readers who are interested in treatments for traumatic brain injury and drug addiction, including therapy and biofeedback. Readers will also appreciate Gould's advocacy for the homeless and suggestions for guided meditation.
A Life Concussed
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon