SWEET TOOTH: A Memoir ~Tim Anderson
“I was on my bed reading, toggling between Stephen King’s IT and a diabetes pamphlet Mom had picked up at the pharmacy and forced upon me when she got home. Both were horrifying, so whenever one of them became too much for me, I would put it down and pick up the other. IT, of course, featured a murderous clown who loved to eat children, and the diabetes pamphlet covered in explicit detail all the possible complications that could arise later in life for a young diabetic who didn’t take care of himself: glaucoma, cataracts, foot infections and disorders, hypertension, heart disease, impotence (what’s that?), nerve damage, and amputation. And obviously, depression.”
SWEET TOOTH is about a double whammy being delivered to a 14 year old boy living in North Carolina; diabetes and hormones. We are talking about the late 1980s and the 1990s and the reign of Jesse Helm’s negative conservatism. It was a scary time to be young and possibly sexually different. Though the author always had girl friends who were best friends, while visiting his Grandmother in New York he is attracted to a gay men’s magazine which he steals from the newsstand.
Anderson is an active member of Young Life at his high school and enjoys singing enthusiastically at each session. He has not questioned the religion of his parents, but lots of confusing thinking is beginning to foment in his mind and his friends are offering up different ideas at their weed, pill, and drinking parties. His hormones are going crazy and he is fantasizing about the college student who led the Young Life group and persuades him to raise money to go to summer camp in New York. The bus load of kids is in Washington DC on their way to camp and our author goes into a diabetic coma and he can no longer ignore the symptoms. No camp, no fantasizes resolved and Anderson’s parents must drive to the rescue.
What my words so far do not tell you is that the author is a very funny writer. I thought I would just speed read through some of the raves, swearing, attempts at finding a partner, Little Debbie episodes and scary blood sugar drops; I could not because I did not wish to miss out on a good laugh. Seriously, the guy has a great sense of humor and some scary diabetes episodes that will teach any parent a thing or two. Type I Diabetes needs to be managed and you have to pay for all the supplies, which is very hard on a college student (except for the year in England) budget one is not likely to manage the disease very well.
SWEET TOOTH had a very nice format. Each of the dozen chapters were proceeded by an episode called HE’S LOST CONTROL #2 or #5, you get the idea, and they each have a title also such as ‘Glorious Pastries’ (#5) These are moments when he has had a seizure or sugar meltdown that are death defying. The next chapter then shares the next part of his life and what he is learning about school and society, hiding and being seen. He is analyzing his questioning behaviors and his sarcasm and self-deprecating events are strange and funny as he sorts out life. He is really lucky that he had such good friends who stuck with him through this process.
TLC Online book tours sent me a copy of this book for review and it proved to be a good read and one that could be very helpful to folks with Diabetes I and gay children in discovery. Thank you to TLC for this opportunity – SWEET TOOTH is a funny read.
The language, sexual references, and music are definitely of a teenage boy’s thinking through high school and college and this might offend some readers. “Perfect for fans of David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell” or those people who want to understand.
From the book cover:
“Tim Anderson is the author of Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries, which Publisher’s Weekly called ‘Laugh-out-loud funny,’ Shelf Awareness called ‘so much fun,’ and Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times completely ignored. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband, Jimmy; his cat, Stella; and his yoga balance ball, Sheila. Tim also writes young adult historical fiction under the name T. Neill Anderson and blogs at seetimblog.blogspot.com. His favorite Little Debbie snack cake is The Fudge Round.”