Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Review: What My Bones Know, by Stephanie Foo


What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma, by Stephanie Foo. Memoir. Published 2022 by Ballantine Books.

What My Bones Know came highly recommended from several sources, mostly people in the writing community concerned with writing memoir and reading memoirs about trauma and survival. It's a really great book.

Stephanie Foo grew up in California in a highly dysfunctional family and discovered that her myriad of symptoms and difficulties added up to a diagnosis of Complex PTSD; having reached that point, she started on the search for treatment options. This book documents that search, with memoir weaving through a narrative about what C-PTSD is, what's out there, and how she found a path to healing. Her background is in journalism and she puts her investigative skills to good use to create a compelling, moving story.

She does her weaving so seamlessly you barely notice as a reader; her journey and the way she expands beyond herself to talk about the larger issues around stigma, suffering and ultimately getting better are really one and the same. Foo is a skilled writer and charismatic too- honest and raw and real. I never felt like she was trying to portray herself in any particular way more than just tell her story, with all of her conflicts and confusion on display, her vulnerability and her successes, too. 

The book succeeds on all these levels and Foo creates a really satisfying and page-turning story about some pretty dark topics and times in her life. I think what pulled me along was the sense of optimism she has the whole time, the way she communicates to the reader that every step is a step forward. She celebrates the victories and treats the setbacks as just another bump on the road- but she's still on that road. I think anyone recovering from trauma or interested in the topic will find something good here, and memoir fans will appreciate her story which is both unique and universal.

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.


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