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An account of one mother's journey to understand and reconnect with her high-spirited preteen son--a true story sure to beguile parents grappling with a child's bewildering behavior.
Popular literature is filled with the stories of self-sacrificing mothers bravely tending to their challenging children. Katherine Ellison offers a different kind of tale. Shortly after Ellison, an award-winning investigative reporter, and her twelve-year-old son, Buzz, were both diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, she found herself making such a hash of parenting that the two of them faced three alternatives: he'd go to boarding school; she'd go AWOL; or they'd make it their full-time job to work out their problems together. They decided to search for a solution while Ellison investigated what genuine relief, if any, might be found in the confusing array of goods sold by the modern mental health industry.
The number of diagnoses for childhood attention and behavior issues is exploding, leaving parents and educators on a confusing chase to find the best kind of help for each child. Bu, a page-turner of a memoir, brings much relief. It is immensely engaging, laugh-out-loud funny, and honest--and packed with helpful insights.
Katherine Ellison says of herself, "My dream from the time I was 13 and read I.F. Stone's essays and Oriana Fallaci's interviews was to be a foreign correspondent, and I was lucky enough to realize that dream. I covered the Philippine revolution against the Marcos dictatorship for the San Jose Mercury News in the 1980s and won a Pulitzer for International Reporting for my part in a series about corruption by the Marcoses. Then from 1987-'92 I was bureau chief in Mexico City for the Mercury News and Knight Ridder Newspapers, its parent company, after which I spent 7 years in Rio reporting on South America for the Miami Herald and KRN. These days I combine writing about neuroscience and the environment with raising two high-maintenance kids."
"In this well-written memoir, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and former foreign correspondent Ellison describes life after she learns that her 12-year-old son, Buzz, suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and that she's got it, too.
Looking back, the Stanford graduate sees the signs, even in her choice of profession. Who needs Ritalin when you can cover coups? Ellison expertly weaves together her family's story (at one point her son grabs a huge butcher's knife, waves it at her, then holds it against his own throat) with interesting information about impulsive behavior (the ancient Greeks used leeches to treat it because they thought it was caused by too much red blood). She gives her take on treatments they tried, and gives thumbs down to food additives (they appear to increase hyperactivity) and stimulants (at least for Buzz, they cause terrible insomnia), and thumbs up to neurofeedback, meditation, and a new pet dog. Parents of kids with ADHD should find comfort in this book, which combines helpful information on the disorder with Ellison's personal story."--Booklist
"A book I couldn't put down, a story of love and persistence, as well as an easy-to-read source book on what to do if your child has ADD...Bu will teach, charm, and bolster you."--Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of Driven to Distraction
"Edgy, sensitive, irreverent, jaw-dropping, insightful.... If you want to know what it's really like to be a parent on the front lines of dealing with impulsivity, inattention, and defiance...make a beeline for Bu."--Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology, UC Berkeley
"It's a lonely, confusing jungle out there for parents of behaviorally challenging kids....Ellison's journey through the jungle is bumpy, difficult, humorous, insightful, riveting, and real. You gotta read this book!"--Ross W. Greene, PhD, Harvard Medical School; author, The Explosive Child and Lost at School
304 pages. 2010