Super Sick by Allison Alexander

Without sugar-coating anything, Super Sick is an uplifting book about chronic illness
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The cover of 'Super Sick: Making Peace With Chronic Illness' by Allison Alexander

One of the things that was most remarkable about 2020 for me was how little my life was changed by a global pandemic. Being already isolated over the past several years, far from friends and family, with physical disability, chronic illness and mental illness, and for seven whole agonising months of the year a bonus extra layer of medication withdrawal on top, the most notable change in my life was the sudden availability of telephone access for medical appointments. Still, life was pretty miserable, so the prospect of an uplifting read in the form of Super Sick * by Allison Alexander was very welcome.

What’s Super Sick about?

Super Sick gives a window into the world of people with chronic illness, including the author herself, offering solidarity and hope to readers who are themselves sick and insight to those who are currently non-disabled. The feel of it reminded me of another book I enjoyed: Sunbathing in the Rain: A cheerful book about depression by Gwyneth Lewis*. In a similar way, without sugar-coating anything or being overly saccharine, Super Sick is an uplifting book about chronic illness.

Super Sick reviews

“Allison Alexander uses the many superheroes in our culture to inspire readers not to think of themselves as anything less than super humans even though they may be struggling with their health.”
–Toni Bernhard, author of How to Be Sick and How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness

Other reviewers laud the author for her frankness and honesty and describe this book as a must-read for people with chronic illness, for friends and family, and even for medical professionals.

My thoughts on Super Sick

With the topic of chronic illness it’s hard to find a balance between utterly depressing on the one hand and saccharine and trite on the other. For me, this book hit the spot perfectly, with the inclusion of some brutally honest anecdotes from the author’s life combined with some uplifting philosophy and a tour of spoonie-relevant pop culture. The author makes several mentions of her Christian religion, which gave me some initial misgivings as an atheist (as Christian authors can sometimes tend towards proselytising), but in fact it was perfectly fine.

The pattern of the book is based in short, easily readable chapters, each of which is bookended with one or two cultural references, ranging from books and TV series to computer games, the return to which at the end of the chapter gives a satisfying rhythm to the book. Each chapter functions as a little media review, as well as having poignant and insightful things to say about chronic illness. I found myself tempted to start making a media recommendations list but was lacking the spoons to do so, so I was incredibly pleased to get to the end of the book and find that the author had thoughtfully included a ready-made list. What a lovely gift!

Would I recommend to other spoonies?

Wholeheartedly yes. I’d recommend Super Sick both for spoonies themselves and for lending to friends and family. It’s an enjoyable and easy read, and left me with a sense of warmth and solidarity that has lasted long past finishing the book. One warning though – you might find yourself with a much longer reading list after you’ve read the media recommendations!

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Read Spooniehacker’s interview with author Allison Alexander.

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Our reviewer received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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