Literary ‘betes.

There’s nothing better than a good novel on a long, hot, summer day. I love to take a good book out on the patio or to the beach with a cold drink and spend hours lost in a great read. My most recent endeavor is True Believers by the New York Times best-selling author Kurt Anderson. I’m only a few chapters in but the story has already grabbed me. It’s about an attorney who recently turned down a nomination for the Supreme Court because of a secret she’s kept for years, which will be revealed to the public after her memoir is published. So far it’s a great book, packing all the elements of great story telling: it’s got political intrigue, layered characters and….diabetes.

Yep. Diabetes. The main character in the book has Type 1 diabetes, and is the reason I picked up the tome in the first place. I received a press release about the book (as we sometimes do here in the blogging world – always makes me feel all important-like!) and was fascinated to find out that the author has Type 1, and penned the novel with the intention to make diabetes a supporting role to the main story. He weaves it seamlessly into the tale with paragraphs like this:

My peevishness with her is so intense that I wonder if I’m on a hypoglycemic downward slide. I keep glucose meters all over the place – bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, right here on the coffee table – so I prick my finger and squeeze out a drop: 117. Good: I’m just angry, not too low, for my meter tells me so.

Andersen writes about the character’s diabetes just as he would any other scene, which in and of itself helps people without diabetes understand that having Type 1 is just another facet of one’s total self – like being a lawyer or being brunette. He also uses moments in the book to teach. For example, the character elaborates on low blood sugars in one chapter in a way that also helps explain the difference between Type 1 and Type 2. The cool thing about the way he writes is that there’s nothing preachy or dry about it – the character just happens to have diabetes, but you learn about the disease just by his descriptions of her day to day life.

I haven’t made it through enough of the book yet to tell you my ultimate review of the story. But I can tell you that no matter how much I end up liking the plot or not, reading about a character with Type 1 is so freaking cool. It’s so fun to read a novel where the main character discusses glucose meters, insulin, and low blood sugars. I’ve seen some movies with diabetic characters: Panic Room, ConAir,  (no, I don’t even count Steel Magnolias among them – that’s not so much a movie to me as it is The Ultimate Factually Incorrect Diabetes Stereotype-Inducing Disasterpiece Theater), but I’ve never read a book where the main character was a Type 1. It just makes her all the more interesting to me – and there’s always something cool about “meeting” a fellow member of the diabetes tribe (yes, I know the character in the book isn’t real so I can’t really say “meeting her”but you know what I mean). It’s the same reason that when I see someone at a restaurant pull out their meter kit, or see a pump on a person at the gym that I love to talk with them. It’s that “hey, you get it” moment that feels so good, and I get that same feeling from reading this book. Real or imagined, I always like to connect with other folks with diabetes. It’s a good reminder that we’re all in this together.

You can get Kurt Andersen’s book here if you’d like to check it out for yourself.

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Comments

I went to a T1 diabetes panel Anderson moderated for the New York Stem Cell Foundation (Gary Hall was there, too! star-studded!) – it makes me happy that he normalizes it. Can’t wait to read it!

I used to love the Babysitter’s Club because Stacy had type 1, and they actually did a reasonable job explaining her symptoms!

OMG CAT!! I totally forgot about the Stacey from Babysitter’s Club – she did have diabetes and you’re right, they actually did a pretty good job of explaining things. I cant believe I forgot about her!

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