Body Breakdowns: Tales of Illness and Recovery.


168 pages
ISBN 978-1-895636-86-4
DDC 362.10971





Edited by Janis Harper
Reviewed by Ginette Michel


When the editor of Body Breakdowns became sick she realized that she was scared and basically alone. What she wanted was to hear other peoples’ stories, and to know that we are all in this together. Our bodies will break down; sickness is a part of life. Real stories will help us understand that we are not travelling alone through life. So she went looking for help. From rheumatoid arthritis to diabetes to cancer, Body Breakdowns tells 21 true and personal stories of lives which were drastically altered by illness, and how their suffering and their ability to understand and deal with the breakdown of their bodies changed their world. “Why did this happen to me?” and “How did it happen to me?” were questions that each one had to answer, and then they all had to come to the realization that their bodies had changed, they were aging, and they had to find a way to travel this new voyage in their lives. Each story is different: young, old, illness, injury, life-threatening, debilitating, but each story deals with pain and a lack of understanding about “Why me?”


Finally each person came to the realization that anything can happen at any time. We can never be really prepared. Sooner or later everyone is a “wounded storyteller.” Body Breakdowns is truly a great read for anyone who has any understanding of illness and pain or whose story belongs on the pages of this book. In contrast to reading about the breakdown of the body in a medical textbook, these stories give first-hand experiences of pain, mental anguish, and trust. It is an excellent book to help us understand that sickness is a part of life, but it is also a great reference or reading text for a high school, college, or university course that deals with suffering, life, or even pathophysiology. These stories would lead to great discussions within groups and even possible interviews for the students to write their own “breakdown” book. The story in the book about the Great Horned Owl “mapping his mysterious path” sums up for all of us the power of our bodies.


“Body Breakdowns: Tales of Illness and Recovery.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,