Book review: The Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live — by Heather B. Armstrong

(Gallery Books)
Heather Armstrong, otherwise known as dooce or Our Lady of Perpetual Depression, is a writer with an unmistakable voice and an ability to mix pathos and humor in such a way as to induce simultaneous crying and laughing. She is the de facto originator of mommy blogs and her blog, dooce.com, has received numerous awards, including a lifetime achievement award. Hints of a troubled side were always evident in her dark humor and she has always been almost ridiculously candid, but the severity of her mental illness and struggle with depression is now fully uncovered in her new book, as well as her remarkable treatment successes. This open and sincere account describes, in excruciating detail, a controversial experimental procedure, conducted through a clinic at the University of Utah School of Medicine, which mainly consisted of Heather being put into a medically-induced coma (yes, 10 times) in order to overcome her severe clinical depression. There is no subterfuge. She is literally brain dead for 15 minutes at a time, and as she so bluntly puts it, for someone who actually wanted to be dead, this was the next best thing. You will not soon encounter another story quite like this told in quite this manner. It’s a must-read.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.
9 Medical Memoirs
When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
Brain on Fire, by Susannah Cahalan
The Bright Hour, by Nina Riggs
How to Be Loved, by Eva Hagberg Fisher
Everything Happens for a Reason, by Kate Bowler
Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8, by Naoki Higashida
Sick: A Memoir, by Porochista Khakpour
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death, by Maggie O’Farrell
A Really Good Day, by Ayelet Waldman

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