Review: Not Fade Away by Rebecca Alexander

20893350Not Fade Away by Rebecca Alexander
Published by: Avery
Publication Date: September 11th, 2014
Genres: Nonfiction, Autobiography
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320
Rating: 5
Date Read: 01/04/2015
Links: Goodreads | Booktopia | B&N | Book Depository | Amazon | Author’s Website

Even a darkening world can be brilliantly lit from within.

Born with a rare genetic mutation called Usher Syndrome type III, Rebecca Alexander has been simultaneously losing both her sight and hearing since she was a child, and was told that she would likely be completely blind and deaf by age 30. Then, at 18, a fall from a window left her athletic body completely shattered.

None of us know what we would do in the face of such devastation. What Rebecca did was rise to every challenge she faced. She was losing her vision and hearing and her body was broken, but she refused to lose her drive, her zest for life and – maybe most importantly – her sense of humor. Now, at 35, with only a sliver of sight and significantly deteriorated hearing, she is a psychotherapist with two masters’ degrees from Columbia University, and an athlete who teaches spin classes and regularly competes in extreme endurance races. She greets every day as if it were a gift, with boundless energy, innate curiosity, and a strength of spirit that have led her to places we can’t imagine.

In Not Fade Away, Rebecca tells her extraordinary story, by turns harrowing, funny and inspiring. She meditates on what she’s lost—from the sound of a whisper to seeing a sky full of stars, and what she’s found in return—an exquisite sense of intimacy with those she is closest to, a love of silence, a profound gratitude for everything she still has, and a joy in simple pleasures that most of us forget to notice.

Not Fade Away is both a memoir of the senses and a unique look at the obstacles we all face—physical, psychological, and philosophical—exploring the extraordinary powers of memory, love, and perseverance. It is a gripping story, an offering of hope and motivation, and an exquisite reminder to live each day to its fullest.

At a young age Rebecca Alexander learned she would lose all sense of hearing and sight. Growing up she prepares as best as she can to have to deal with the aspect of losing something many of us take for granted.

This was a very quick read for me. It’s not the most spectacular writing but the passion and strength Alexander holds kept me intrigued. This book was well-written, once I got started I couldn’t put it down. I’d never heard of Rebecca Alexander or her story, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this memoir. Rebecca Alexander leads the reader at a good pace, and is relatable. She is surprisingly upbeat when describing the effects of Usher Syndrome type III on her life with the sense of humour and sarcasm you might expect from a young woman living in New York with two completed Masters degrees.

She is accomplished, vivacious, active, energetic, and derives a great deal of satisfaction from helping others. She has taught in a prison, she has volunteered for Project Open Hand, a non-profit organization which delivers meals to people living with HIV/AIDS. Alexander earned a Master’s degree in Public Health, and a second Master’s in Social Work, both from Columbia University.

Not Fade Away, A memoir of Senses Lost and Found, is nicely and movingly written, and surprisingly, possesses tremendous real cheerful humour. Despite her inevitable downward spiral of lost senses, the memoir contains not a shred of self-pity. Rebecca maintains a positive attitude throughout.

This book, a brave and affecting and funny account of a horrible and frightening illness, made me laugh and cry and feel truly and deeply moved. The compelling life story of a remarkable and strong young woman. Rebecca’s voice is strong and honest and the memoir is a quick, easy read. Rebecca shows us that the only way to cope with such a challenge is head on, while also taking the very real time to mourn the loss of hearing birds sing, seeing loved ones’ faces and being totally independent. I would highly recommend his book.

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