You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know, by Heather Sellers

St. Timothy’s Books, Brew and Banter book club has just finished reading a fascinating book by Heather Sellers entitled You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know.  The story is a memoir and concentrates on this author’s coming to an understanding of a condition she has known as “face blindness.”  The official term for this condition is prosopagnosia; what it means is that she is unable to put together any memories of people’s faces.  Yes, she sees their eyes, noses, mouths (that’s vision), but cannot put them together in memorable forms (perception).  She recognizes some people by hairstyle, the way they carry themselves or walk, the style of dress they usually wear.  But others – even her own husband – she frequently does not recognize.

What makes the book fascinating is that she does not really understand that she has this condition until she is in her late 30’s, when she is also coming to grips with the fact that her mother is a paranoid schizophrenic.  Her father is an alcoholic who has significant problems of his own.  To say that this woman comes from a dysfunctional background is to understate her childhood.

Written in a style where the author moves back and forth between the present and the past, we see Ms. Sellers’ childhood and adolescence remembered from her perspective at close to 40 years old.  We feel her pain at shuttling back and forth between living with one parent and then another; her disappointment when neither of her parents will complete college scholarship financial information forms; her heartache at her lack of friends because other kids see her as stuck up when she doesn’t recognize them.  And yet, she never stops loving her parents and trying to understand them. The story is ultimately one of the power of love and forgiveness to bring redemption and acceptance to troubled relationships.

We enjoyed this book a great deal and would recommend it highly.  The book is well written and makes reading on and on a pleasure, even, and maybe particularly, in the parts where she is finally able to find medical help that explains prosopagnosia.

—Jeanie Smith

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