Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Great Books From a CFS Author

I just reviewed a wonderful trilogy for middle-grade and teen readers at my Great Books for Kids and Teens blog, and I wanted to share with you the author's convoluted history with CFS.

Anne Ursu is the author of The Cronus Chronicles, an exciting and suspenseful series about a couple of ordinary thirteen-year old cousins who end up battling real-life Greek gods. Anne's writing is clever and imaginative, with a nice dose of humor, and I highly recommend her books to any pre-teen and teen readers (and grown-ups, too!).

I first heard of Anne several years ago when I came across a newspaper story when the first book of the trilogy, The Shadow Thieves, was released; the story mentioned that she had CFS. I e-mailed Anne to ask for a review copy of her book and to share my own CFS story. In a strange twist of fate, Anne found my blog and e-mailed me recently, not realizing I was the same person who had contacted her years before.

Anne's CFS story is a fascinating one. When I first contacted her, she had had the relapsing-remitting type of CFS for many years but considered herself lucky that it was relatively mild. She had long periods of good health in between crashes. By the time Anne e-mailed me earlier this year, she considered herself recovered from CFS, as she hadn't had a crash episode in a long time, but her husband had recently gotten mono and developed post-viral CFS. Today, her husband is undergoing IV anti-viral therapy and seeing some improvement. Anne still does not have the classic immune-dysfunction symptoms of CFS, but she has developed fairly severe Orthostatic Intolerance and is trying various treatments for that.

Now, here's the really cool part...Anne worked CFS into the plot of The Shadow Thieves (I told you she was clever!). The book opens with a strange illness affecting young teens, an illness that makes them feel so exhausted and sick that they can barely get out of bed. Sound familiar? Cousins Charlotte and Zee are determined to find out what is making their friends sick and set off on a quest which leads them to the Underworld. They battle against Greek gods in the Underworld and eventually make their friends well again...too bad it isn't that easy in real life, huh? Jamie and I read The Shadow Thieves several years ago when we were both much sicker with CFS, and we loved seeing this illness get vanquished by the book's hero and heroine!

In addition to The Cronus Chronicles, Anne has also written two grown-up novels, Spilling Clarence and The Disapparation of James. I haven't read the first, but I loved The Disapparation of James and passed it along to friends and family who also enjoyed it. Check out Anne's website for more information on her books.

NOTE: Another excellent novel by an author with CFS is The State of ME by Nasim Marie Jafry - the novel is about a woman with CFS, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Toni said...

Here's an amusing story about "The State of Me" (which I own but haven't read because it's hard for me to read books in print form -- I listen to audiobooks). Yesterday, my daughter sent me an email asking if I'd ever heard of myalgic encephomyalitis. I wrote back saying that it was the name for CFS everywhere but in this country. It turns out that she had seen "The State of Me" at her local library (in Los Angeles) and checked it out because the author's illness sounded so much like mine. She had no idea it was the same illness!

Sue Jackson said...

That is funny, Toni! And I'm so glad to hear that US libraries are carrying The State of Me (it was published in Scotland). There is a Q&A section in the book where the main character explains what ME is and that it's called CFS in the US.

But the great thing is that it's a great novel just as a novel - so maybe more people will read it and enjoy it and along the way learn about CFS/ME.