Don't Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley

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A beautifully written and darkly funny journey through the world of the allergic.
Like twelve million other Americans, Sandra Beasley suffers from food allergies. Her allergies—severe and lifelong—include dairy, egg, soy, beef, shrimp, pine nuts, cucumbers, cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, macadamias, pistachios, cashews, swordfish, and mustard. Add to that mold, dust, grass and tree pollen, cigarette smoke, dogs, rabbits, horses, and wool, and it’s no wonder Sandra felt she had to live her life as “Allergy Girl.” When butter is deadly and eggs can make your throat swell shut, cupcakes and other treats of childhood are out of the question—and so Sandra’s mother used to warn guests against a toxic, frosting-tinged kiss with “Don’t kill the birthday girl!”
It may seem that such a person is “not really designed to survive,” as one blunt nutritionist declared while visiting Sandra’s fourth-grade class. But Sandra has not only survived, she’s thrived—now an essayist, editor, and award-winning poet, she has learned to navigate a world in which danger can lurk in an unassuming corn chip. Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl is her story.
With candor, wit, and a journalist’s curiosity, Sandra draws on her own experiences while covering the scientific, cultural, and sociological terrain of allergies. She explains exactly what an allergy is, describes surviving a family reunion in heart-of-Texas beef country with her vegetarian sister, delves into how being allergic has affected her romantic relationships, exposes the dark side of Benadryl, explains how parents can work with schools to protect their allergic children, and details how people with allergies should advocate for themselves in a restaurant.
A compelling mix of memoir, cultural history, and science, Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl is mandatory reading for the millions of families navigating the world of allergies—and a not-to-be-missed literary treat for the rest of us.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Sandra Beasley

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SANDRA BEASLEY is the author of the poetry collections I Was the Jukebox, winner of the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Theories of Falling, which won the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize. Her honors include a DCCAH Individual Artist Fellowship, the Friends of Literature Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers, Inc. She lives in Washington, D.C., where her prose has been featured in the Washington Post Magazine.
Published July 12, 2011 by Broadway Books. 242 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Don't Kill the Birthday Girl

Kirkus Reviews

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you never knew where a food can be lurking.” Interspersed with memories of the daily game of “Russian roulette” she was forced to play well into young adulthood are well-researched sections about such neglected topics as the history of allergy identification and treatment, as well as interesting...

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Publishers Weekly

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In this intelligent and witty memoir, poet Beasley (I Was the Jukebox) recounts her lifelong struggle to live a normal life while waging a battle against deadly food allergies.

Apr 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Don't Kill the Birthday Girl

Star Tribune

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Beasley grew up allergic to just about everything in a time when allergies were misunderstood. Her memoir explores the limits of her condition with humor and hope.

Jul 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Don't Kill the Birthday Girl


Don't Kill The Birthday Girl: Tales From an Allergic Life, written by poet Sandra Beasley, is a memoir about living with severe food allergies.

Jul 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Don't Kill the Birthday Girl

Review (Barnes & Noble)

(She thought it would be safe to toast her friend's engagement with a lemon drop cocktail, but it turns out there was a milk derivative in the sour mix!) The book is also, in a sense, a coming-of-age story, as Beasley, author of the poetry collection I Was the Jukebox, must eventually leave her ...

Jul 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Don't Kill the Birthday Girl


Her book, which takes its name from childhood birthday parties at which the author’s mother routinely warned guests not to “kill the birthday girl” with a buttery cake or creamy frosting kiss, plots her struggles with food reactions that often land her curled up on the floor in pain struggling fo...

Jul 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Don't Kill the Birthday Girl

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