Live. Love. Run. It's what I do.

Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl

I recently read a book called Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl. It’s a non-fiction book, and before I talk about it, I just want to say that lately I feel like I’ve realized that I’ve had a lot of misconceptions about things. Such as the idea that all non-fiction books are completely boring and would put me and all other normal people to sleep after about one sentence. This book has helped me realize how wrong I was, because it actually was very interesting to read, and I actually enjoyed reading it and wanted to read it. Crazy, huh??

Anyways, this book is a memoir by Sandra Beasley, a woman with a plethora of severe allergies. She’s allergic to dairy (both from cows and goats), eggs, soy, mango, grapefruit, beef, shrimp, mustard, cashews, macadamias, pistachios, honeydew, and cucumber, just to name a few in the agonizingly long list. Despite her severe allergies which have the capability to send her into anaphylactic shock (a life-threatening allergic reaction), Beasley has learned to make the most of life despite her condition and has become a successful writer and poet.

Reading Beasley’s account of her life with these allergies has made me much more aware of the reality of food allergies. Not having any food allergies myself, I’ve never had to worry about meticulously reading ingredients lists on every food I eat, asking restaurant waiters for ingredients every time I go out to eat, or what my boyfriend eats before I kiss him, like she has had to do in order to keep herself alive.  Beasley addresses all aspects of living with multiple severe allergies, from the medical aspects and the common testing procedures to the social implications on everyday life. While she does use complex medical terms, and it is full of information, her personal stories from her life and sometimes humorous accounts keep the tone light and makes the book truly entertaining to read.

With allergies so prevalent in today’s society, I never realized the extent to which they can affect all of those people’s lives. I think that now that I’ve read this book, I am a lot more sensitive to allergies and my understanding of them has become much clearer. Whether you have allergies or not, I would definitely recommend reading Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl and maybe it will change your perspective on allergies as much as it changed mine.

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Julie Yip-Williams

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