On April 12, 2013, Amy Hodge went to the hospital with vision issues – and was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumor, deemed inoperable by the first four neurosurgeons who examined it. However, the fifth – one of the top neurosurgeons in the world – believed that he could remove it without brain damage, and did so. His intervention was needed twice, as a second brain tumor was found after the first surgery, but Amy was and is determined to recover completely and lead a full life nonetheless. This book is her diary of the diagnosis, surgeries, and post-surgical care and treatment, and of the vigorous and enthusiastic life she leads alongside and intertwined with her existence as a member of what she calls TeamBrain.
HEADSTRONG is essentially a transcription of Ms. Hodge’s CaringBridge diary, and therefore goes day by day through events as they happen. The reader is thereby brought into an intimate, everyday relationship with Amy and her family, experiencing everything from church services, fitness classes (as both student and instructor), and recipes to more profound moments of emotional support, community, love, and family togetherness. Hodge has a lovely way of adding a poetic lilt to everyday life, coloring her activities with an evocative writing style that brings them to vivid life. The emotional tone of the book is colored overwhelmingly by the author’s vigorous, optimistic personality – she is determined to be a long-lived survivor, and tolerates very little self-pity or depression in her writing.
Moments of grief and loss are present, though never overindulged or wallowed in, and are far more often related to the loss of her third child, her living daughter’s stillborn twin, than to her own suffering or danger. This book will be particularly useful for anyone suffering from a similar health issue, who needs cheerful reassurance and encouragement to avoid becoming bogged down in depression. Hodge does have a tendency to overuse capital letters and exclamation marks in her enthusiastic desire to get her emotions across, more notably at the beginning of the book than near the end. The sheer length of the book, too, can be rather intimidating – some editing and paring-down might make this more readable for the general reader, who is perhaps not as personally invested in the topic.
HEADSTRONG is a tale of survival and courage, with a warm, loving, and fiercely strong heroine, well-suited to inspire and encourage the reader in need of a boost.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader