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Fever of Unknown Origin, made the Kirkus, 40 Indies Worth Discovering list.

A touching consideration of the frighteningly precarious nature of good health..

Debut author Ford presents a memoir of illness and death.

In 1990, the author developed a strange malady. Her symptoms included regular fevers, lethargy, a rash, and digestive problems. She was eventually given the diagnosis of adult-onset Still’s disease. As Ford puts it, “Being this sick was as novel to me as a trek in the Himalayas would have been.” The constant fevers left her in a fog, and her digestive problems made a subclavian line necessary for feeding. The author was in no condition to attend to her work as a psychotherapist, and she worried about money. Her doctor warned that they might need to remove her colon. Eventually, however, with the help of modern medicine and a spiritually minded friend, she started to get better. Later in the book, she relates the declining health of both of her parents: Years after the author’s own onset of illness, her mother had a stroke that left her looking like “a person caught halfway between life and decay, still undecided about which way she was heading.” Her father passed away in a “thrashing, panicked fight for breath.” Without question, the author tackles difficult topics here—whether describing a severe, incapacitating illness or dealing with the endless complications of dying loved ones, the text is tough, realistic, and relatable. When the author’s ailing father insists that he doesn’t “need any goddamn nursing home,” any reader who has gone through a similar experience will recognize the struggle. While overall the book progresses at a steady pace, some later portions do meander. Still, the work stands up as an unabashedly personal investigation of life’s darkest moments.

A touching consideration of the frighteningly precarious nature of good health.

—Kirkus Review


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