Friday, 8 December 2006

Book Review: I'm not Sick, Just a Bit Unwell (Yvonne Foong)

Today's special pre-weekend book review is a book by Malaysian blogger Yvonne Foong. She launched this book officially last weekend, and is gonna be doing another one TOMORROW at MPH Mid Valley (9th December 2006, 3-4pm).

I saw the book when I was lepaking at MPH 1 Utama, and figured that when two SF Coffee Mo' Mochas cost more than this book, I really have no valid financially-related excuse NOT to buy it... (SEE??!?!??! Price DOES matter!)

Besides, you're probably sick of all the fantasy books I've been gushing over lately, aren't ya?

On with the review...


Title: I'm not Sick, Just a Bit Unwell: Life with Neurofibromatosis
Author: Yvonne Foong

From her lifelong battle with Neurofibromatosis to her being crowned as the Most outstanding Youth of 2005, Yvonne Foong's story is both involving and extraordinary. If you have ever wondered what it is like to cope with an incurable illness, this book introduces you to the day-by-day realities of a teenager who is the girl next door.

What I Liked:
  • Short and sweet (I finished it on the LRT going to and fro from Jelatek to Taman Jaya).
  • Small and light (can keep in my back pocket!!!!111)
  • Gives a good, clear picture of what NFII is all about, and how life as a patient is like
  • Poignant at times, sad at others
  • Simple, easy to read language

What I Didn't Like:
  • Certain parts needed more elaboration
  • Too many questions left unanswered
  • Emotionally a little TOO detached...
  • Writing is ok, but seems a bit stop-start-stop-start
  • Language a bit TOO simple at times

I donno. On one hand, it's a very informative book that pretty much educates you on the disease through Yvonne's personal accounts, but on the other hand, for an autobiography, it seems... incomplete.

It also didn't help that at the end of each chapter I found myself asking more questions than ever. Maybe it was the kepoh journalist in me, but like someone told me before, there is nothing more annoying to a journalist than having a feeling that a question has been left unanswered.

There were so many more things that could and probably should have been included in the book to make it better, so many emotions left unexplained, so many stories left untold, so many loopholes left dangling. What of Aunt Ivy? How did Tremayne ‘influence her intellectual development’? How did Elena help her? What's her relationship with her family like (some parts she mentioned not close, then tiba-tiba close, then donno)? How'd she raise all that money?

Don't get me wrong, the writing is fine. The points are well-constructed, the facts are all there, and there is nothing wrong with grammar, structure or 'isi kandungan'. It just seems a little... detached, thats all.

After all, I've seen more emotive and opinionated writing on her blog, so why is this one so impersonal? It reads a lot like a 'What I Did For My Holidays" series of essays more than a proper book. Maybe it's because it's her first book after all, and stil hasn't found her individual style of writing yet.

Or maybe the whole point of the book was not to focus too much on the emotions going through her mind, but more on the facts, the chronological events, and the outcome of all that.

That said, it's an ok read. It's fairly well-written, simple enough to read, not boring, parts of story are poignant and sad, and it does get the message across after all. All in all, not a bad first book at all, but could have been better...

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