FOCUS is an inspiring insight into the author Ingrid Ricks’ battle with degenerative eye disease, and how she resolved and made peace with the debilitating condition.
The strong opening gets to the heart of the subject matter, as author Ingrid Ricks finds herself at her eye exam, arguing with the doctor’s assistant about whether or not the eye machine is functioning. Ricks’ growing frustration turns into a quieter observation as she notices a change in the behavior of the doctor’s assistant: “She didn’t look at me when she talked, but I could tell it wasn’t out of complacency.” The shift from one emotion to the next, the slowly increasing annoyance turning to dread and the jarring reality of her medical diagnosis is a powerful set up.
Ricks captures the overwhelming myriad of emotions that consumes a person with a newly diagnosed medical condition: “For the first time in my life, I noticed what I didn’t see.” Ricks reveals the keen awareness, self-doubt, paranoia, fear, dread and depression that fills her mind when she looks at her children, thinks of her marriage, her future. Ricks then compares her barrage of dread and anxiety to the hopelessness and despair that she sees and feels during a visit to Africa where she has been commissioned to write about her observations and experiences with its devastation and impoverished people. This makes, not only for more emotional manipulation, but also food for thought as the author must reevaluate what is truly important in life – not just hers, but in the big picture of life.
At times there is a sense that it is somewhat unfinished or rushed as Ricks’ references several seemingly significant events or details, yet doesn’t follow through with them. For example, she flatly lists the physical description of several characters: “He was Asian, around thirty, and had a friendly smile.” And, “He was older – probably mid-sixties, with silver hair and a slim build.” Also, Ricks makes reference to her father being arrested in front of her and, though she does convey her fear and sense of loss, Ricks leaves the reader wondering about the reason for his arrest. Overall, however, the Ricks’ writing is clear and the memoir easy to read and sympathize with the author’s predicament.
In spite of some hiccups in the smoothness of the narrative, FOCUS is a moving and uplifting memoir about how the loss of peripheral vision helped the author really notice and re-focus on the important things in life.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader.com