Book Review: Head Case: My Brain and Other Wonders by Cole Cohen

head case









Title: Head Case: My Brain and Other Wonders

Author: Cole Cohen

Published: 2015

Pages: 221

Genre: Memoir

Format: Giveaway from A Bookworm’s World

My rating:  4/5

Reading Challenge: A Funny Book


A spirited, wry, and utterly original memoir about one woman’s struggle to make her way and set up a life after doctors discover a hole the size of a lemon in her brain


By just reading the dedication – “For anyone who has ever felt invisible” – I knew this memoir was going to be memorable and provide unforgettable life lessons. I found it refreshing and comical as well as real and an in-depth look inside the mind of someone who sees the world differently. All that Cole speaks on and experiences makes complete sense. Some of the people she encounters gives her chances although some tasks are not doable the way Cole thinks. However, seeing the accomplishments she’s had, you can’t help but root for her while she gains new insights about her condition and manages it as best as she is able. Of course, her story is not about her overcoming every obstacle and being the unsung hero – her writing is not that style nor do I believe she wants it to seem that way – but more about how does she figure it out or learn from every job she’s had, every friend/relationship, every city she has tried to live in.

My plan for this review is to pick out the most meaningful quotes/passages and what my reactions and thoughts are.

“it’s a wonder that administrators didn’t just throw up their hands and shut down the public schools to let the kids roam the country.”

Being a higher education administrator, I find it astounding that we are not as strong with disability services as we should be. The many educators Cole comes in contact with appear frustrated, but they fail to realize that it is frustrating for Cole and other students like her as well. It makes me think about other barriers with education, like language.

“This interview is for the job of being disabled, and yet still I’m masking, trying to appear as ‘together’ as possible…As a professional mime, taking my social cues from someone else, I don’t know how to interview for the job of being myself.”

How many times have we all tried to wear masks, not just in job interviews but in life? Having Cole narrate gives us an opportunity to know what even basic social interactions look like, trying to blend in. However, when do we ever show our true selves? I feel that it is the majority of human nature to take our cues from those around us, to fit in. For Cole, that is a constant feeling as she approaches the same problems in different ways that befuddle the doctors and tutors she sees on a regular basis.

“In therapy, in relationships, in my writing, I’ve been looking for a map out of the pain of being human, but the word atlas means ‘to endure.’ No one is born with a map of life”

One of my favorite messages from Cole in her memoir. What a unique take on the words atlas and map. How do we endure from the pain we’ve felt? Sometimes I feel that emotional pain is more hurtful than physical pain. Who knows how to manage that along with all the other questions and challenges of life. There is no ‘right’ way to get through or get over something/someone, it just gets easier.

Read Head Case: My Brain and Other Wonders if you like the themes of:

  • Family
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Relationships
  • Transitions



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