STARRED REVIEW
September 11, 2014

When the world goes dark

By Rebecca Alexander
Review by

Rebecca Alexander started having vision problems when she was about 10 years old. Eventually, doctors realized she was suffering from Usher syndrome, a condition that would cause her to become both deaf and blind. Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found is a compelling account of her journey, starting with childhood and ending with her fairly recent acquisition of a cochlear implant.

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Rebecca Alexander started having vision problems when she was about 10 years old. Eventually, doctors realized she was suffering from Usher syndrome, a condition that would cause her to become both deaf and blind. Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found is a compelling account of her journey, starting with childhood and ending with her fairly recent acquisition of a cochlear implant.

At about the time Alexander's troubles began, she suffered another big blow: Her parents divorced. Despite acrimony toward one another, both her mother and father quickly became huge advocates and cheerleaders for their talented, energetic daughter. Now 34, Alexander has enjoyed being a spin instructor and works as a psychotherapist in New York City, even though her condition has caused issues with both pursuits.

Along with such triumphs, Alexander has endured incredible lows, such as her own eating disorder and the debilitating mental illness of her beloved twin brother.  She writes an intimate, no-holds-barred account of the good and the bad. Perhaps her lowest moment occurred after a night of teenage drinking, when she woke up in the middle of the night in her bedroom and managed to fall backward out of her window, more than 27 feet onto a stone patio, "breaking almost everything but my head and neck." While her friends headed off to college, Alexander faced a lengthy, painful recovery, but managed to gain important insights during the process.

Alexander's vision and hearing loss accelerated during her 20s, as she navigated becoming an independent adult and professional. She lives with her service dog, Olive, and uses a cane to navigate. She has learned sign language and lip reading, but so far has resisted using Braille.

Alexander writes memorably and often humorously about her life, including her decision to have a cochlear implant―a choice that was by no means easy, because it meant giving up what natural hearing she had left in one ear. Through each and every moment, she gives thanks to her supportive family and several extraordinarily friends.

Alexander brings readers into her realm―the world of a tremendously courageous, likeable, accomplished woman.

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Get the Book

Not Fade Away

Not Fade Away

By Rebecca Alexander
Gotham
ISBN 9781592408313

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