4 out of 4 stars
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I hesitated about reviewing this book. I tend to stick with magical adventures, gothic horror, historical fiction, or works that I feel I can relate to. Self-help is usually not my cup of tea. However, as I was reading the synopsis and found that the author had suffered from epilepsy, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that this book was for me. I have a nine-year-old daughter who has had random seizures throughout her childhood — what neurologists call childhood epilepsy. Nothing out of the ordinary has ever shown up on her scans, but there is always that question of when and where the next seizure could happen. Giving toxic medications to a child when it may not be necessary is also an internal debate. I was naturally curious about Marc Hoberman's journey.
Reading Adversity Defeated: Turn Your Struggles Into Strengths by Marc Hoberman was almost a surreal experience due to the familiarity I have with some of the scenarios he describes. His book is also laced with an incredible amount of humor considering all that he has gone through, which I guess is one of the points — don't let adversities diminish your character. At around the age of 16, Hoberman found at that he had a seizure disorder, otherwise known as epilepsy. The following passage left me stunned and in tears with the knowledge that this is what my beloved daughter experienced: "The enemy arrives without warning. The invisible, silent invader doesn't ask permission. It enters your brain quietly, suddenly and seizes control of everything, leaving you helpless in its grip. It takes possession and angrily throttles you, unleashing its rage on you. As if hypnotized into a stupor, you are dazed, unresponsive. You cannot refuse it. You can muster no resistance. You are turned off while it takes over — your own personal earthquake." Wow. I had to take a break and collect myself after reading that passage. In this book, Hoberman documents his journey of coming to terms with his condition, overcoming depression, relating to other people, and his treatment. It took a while for doctors to regulate his seizures by finding the proper dosage of a drug known as Depakote. Much later, he would experiment with a new drug called Keppra, one that I am all too familiar with.
Marc Hoberman expresses the havoc that epilepsy wreaked on his personal life as a teenager — the fear of being overcome by a seizure while with friends, how he couldn't drive for months while waiting for the drugs to work, the toll his condition took on his parents. Mostly, however, the author writes of how he was able to come out from under the dark cloud of depression that hovered over him after he was diagnosed. With the help of his parents, he realized that his struggles could be turned into strengths and that his condition did not have to define him. He expresses the importance of learning from adversity and not being paralyzed by it.
Throughout this book, I noticed very few technical errors. There are a couple of missing commas, but that could have been the author's preference. This work has clearly been professionally edited. The book was relatively short, and with all the comedy and personal stories that the author includes, it is pleasurable and easy to read. Hoberman manages to describe epilepsy in terms that are easy to understand and to make the narrative relatable even to those who may not have experience with the disorder. I don't think I came across one tedious passage. This book is easily rated 4 out of 4 stars.
The story will be an inspiration for anyone facing adversity, which is usually everyone, but especially those who struggle with physical and mental conditions that can wreak havoc on their health and personal lives. Aside from the inspirational aspect, it is also a fun book to read. It is enjoyable, and it made me laugh. If you are looking for humor, this will be a good pick. Those who are not particularly keen on self-help or inspirational works may not appreciate Adversity Defeated; however, it is also not my preferred genre, but I ended up being glad to have read it.
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