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Don't Kill the Birthday Girl

Tales from an Allergic Life


Sandra Beasley (View Bio)
Hardcover: Crown, 2011.

Don't Kill the Birthday Girl


"Charming…. Beasley is a warm and lively guide to the quirky world of allergies…. She also helpfully turns her attention to the recent wave of medical research and hypotheses about food allergies…. A vital call to arms for allergy awareness." — Judy Bolton-Fasman, Boston Globe

"Exceptional…. Beasley skillfully weaves the personal with the scientific…. With no self-pity, anger or despair, she eloquently pulls back the curtain on what is the way of life for the medically (as opposed to self-) diagnosed 12 million people living with food allergies today. Not only is her memoir an invaluable resource for parents of children with allergies, as well as the children themselves, it also is a testament to Beasley’s admirable strength and sharp sense of humor in the face of personal adversity." — Meganne Fabrega, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"In this intelligent and witty memoir, poet Beasley recounts her lifelong struggle to live a normal life while waging a battle against deadly food allergies. The author is one of ‘more than 12 million Americans who have been diagnosed with food allergies, a figure that includes almost 4% of all children.’ The title of this enthralling book is not hyperbole. As little as a kiss or hug from a family member or a friend who had eaten cake or ice cream at a birthday party could cause Beasley to break out in hives or, worse, suffer anaphylactic shock. She calls sherbet ‘sweet, icy death in a bowl.’ Beasley details her vigilant parents’ never-ending routine for keeping her safe during her childhood until she left for college, how she and her friends coped with ‘the thousand minor hassles of living with’ her food allergies during college, and the perils of eating while traveling. Throughout this thoughtful and well-written book, Beasley closes the knowledge gap surrounding food allergies. She writes entertainingly about the history of allergies, and current research findings; religious issues surrounding food allergies; and processed foods and their hidden ingredients." — Publishers Weekly

"Award winner Beasley (e.g., Barnard Women Poets) offers a cultural study of living the ‘allergic life'." — Library Journal

"Imagine a birthday cake made without dairy products or eggs. That’s what highly allergic author Beasley faces every year—hence her friends’ and relatives’ constant refrain, “Now, don’t kill the birthday girl.” As she notes, she’s hardly alone: more than 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with food allergies. She worries about whether she’ll add to that tally when she gives birth. Her book is full of interesting (and potentially lifesaving) tidbits: Play-Doh contains wheat. Tempera paints often contain egg. Moisturizing soap may contain soy proteins or cashew oil. Borden used to make Elmer’s glue with a milk derivative, casein. And French fries are a good choice for the highly allergic. (There are no hidden nuts, dairy, or eggs in them.) People with wheat allergies need to be careful at communion: A decade ago, Boston’s Roman Catholic Church affirmed its decree that rice-based wafers were an unacceptable substitute for the regular wheat-based variety. This information- and anecdote-filled book will be a welcome antidote to the worries and fears endured by families with food allergies." — Booklist

"Fascinating…humane and informative." — Kirkus Reviews

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