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Monday, June 29, 2015

Head Case: My Brain and Other Wonders by Cole Cohen

I recently read a review for Head Case that made me log right into NetGalley to see if I could still snag a copy. Happily, I could. Books like this are endlessly fascinating to me, if they are done well.

A spirited, wry, and utterly original memoir about one woman's struggle to make her way and set up a life after doctors discover a hole the size of a lemon in her brain.
The summer before she was set to head out-of-state to pursue her MFA, twenty-six-year-old Cole Cohen submitted herself to a battery of tests. For as long as she could remember, she'd struggled with a series of learning disabilities that made it nearly impossible to judge time and space--standing at a cross walk, she couldn't tell you if an oncoming car would arrive in ten seconds or thirty; if you asked her to let you know when ten minutes had passed, she might notify you in a minute or an hour. These symptoms had always kept her from getting a driver's license, which she wanted to have for grad school. Instead of leaving the doctor's office with permission to drive, she left with a shocking diagnosis--doctors had found a large hole in her brain responsible for her life-long struggles. Because there aren't established tools to rely on in the wake of this unprecedented and mysterious diagnosis, Cole and her doctors and family create them, and discover firsthand how best to navigate the unique world that Cole lives in. Told without an ounce of self-pity and plenty of charm and wit, Head Case is ultimately a story of triumph, as we watch this passionate, loveable, and unsinkable young woman chart a path for herself.

I did find the story itself crazy interesting. I mean, how could I not?? She has a lemon sized hole in her head! But I never really felt like I'd enjoy spending time with Cole and her writing style (personality?) was a bit of a turnoff for me. I realize that a physical problem of this sort is not something that you can ever blame an individual for having, but reading it kind of felt like she was talking about some other person she knew who had this problem. It was in first person, but it was all very detached. The few concrete examples of experiences she had seemed very edited to make it seem as tho any misunderstanding or problem were on the side of the other person, even before she was diagnosed at all. I wanted her to open up and say "I totally screwed this up and know we know why, but oh man what a mess I made!" when instead it was more like "I just couldn't get it right and they kept blaming me!" I couldn't honestly recommend it as great reading though it was very short, so if you are particularly interested in this kind of topic, you may still want to pick it up.


  1. Aw, that's too bad because it does sound like a fascinating story.

  2. A hole the size of a lemon? Does it explain how this happened or was she just born with it? I've never heard of such a thing. But guessing you absolutely disagree with this part of the blurb: "Told without an ounce of self-pity and plenty of charm and wit, Head Case is ultimately a story of triumph, as we watch this passionate, loveable, and unsinkable young woman chart a path for herself."


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