book reviews

Endorsements:

Dr. Edward Hallowell, an ADHD expert formerly of Harvard Medical School and
best-selling author of “Driven to Distraction” endorsed the book, Oct. 15:

“Brilliant, funny, totally engaging and extremely illuminating. This is one of the best memoirs of life with ADHD that I’ve ever read. Simply wonderful.”

Stephen Hinshaw, Professor & Chairman, Psychology Dept, UC Berkeley, endorsed the book, Oct. 30:

“Blake Taylor’s book, ADHD & Me, is stereotype-busting from the outset. The book blends extremely personal descriptions of situations, binds, conflicts, and realities, some humorous and some deadly serious, with extremely useful practical information on how to cope with and overcome the often-devastating symptoms and impairments related to ADHD. Most of all, the book serves to humanize a label and a condition that are too frequently viewed with skepticism and even derision. This is a must-read for people of all ages who are concerned with ADHD…”

Reviews:

Publishers Weekly, Nov. 5:

“A college freshman this fall, Taylor was five when he was diagnosed with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He’s been medicated all these years, but even when he remembered to take his pills, that’s only been a small part of his learning to cope with ADHD. Taylor’s still more impulsive, more hyperactive and more open to distractions than others. He can also be more energetic and more passionate than anyone else. He has learned to see his neurological differences as a mixed blessing-yes, he’s obsessive, but channeled toward a good cause, that can translate to hyperfocused. He veers off the subject, but that can spur creativity, thinking outside the box. Taylor relates the stories of his ADHD mishaps in no special order-how he set fire to the dining room in ninth grade, how he was bullied in sixth grade, how he was victimized by his first-grade teacher-as if to emphasize that a variety of problems can always happen. After describing each incident, he follows up with a “cause and effect” discussion of what he learned from what went wrong, followed by a “solutions” section, a few brief tips for other kids to try. Taylor speaks to fellow teens and their families with an authority few experts can muster. (Feb.)”

Library Journal, Nov. 15:

“In this memoir of life with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Taylor offers readers an inside look at how he gets along on a daily basis as well as a guide for people in the same situation. He is a recent high school graduate, and part of the allure of his account is in finding out how someone with ADHD managed to write a book in the first place. Each chapter covers specific issues such as being bullied, getting organized, and feeling isolated. After relating a personal experience and his handling of it, Taylor advises readers on what to do should they find themselves in the same place. He also shares his perspective on coping with ADHD and speaks to what can be learned. The foreword by Lara Honos-Webb (The Gift of ADHD: How To Transform Your Child’s Problems into Strengths) supports Taylor’s central theme that while ADHD needs to be recognized and treated, it does not entirely define a person, whose strengths should be recognized. Students struggling with ADHD and their parents will benefit from the author’s insights. Recommended for public and high school libraries. Lisa M. Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., KS”

School Library Journal, Dec. 2007:

“Readers looking for inside information about ADHD need look no further. In a straightforward, simple manner, Taylor describes how he has lived successfully for 18 years with ADHD. He opens with a painful memory of being tied to a chair with a bungee cord in order to sit still long enough to eat his dinner. Each chapter begins with a recollection of a different period in his life, how his ADHD framed it, and what he learned from the experience that helped him develop the skills to achieve, and ends with a list of “solutions.” What makes these practical tips particularly useful is that they are recommendations that Taylor has used. He includes suggestions for dealing with distraction, hyperactivity, and bullies. He also addresses making friends; staying organized; and coping with discrimination, social anxiety, and rules. It is obvious that the author, a college freshman, had great parental and medical support throughout his childhood; it was sad to read that some of his dealings with the educational community were less positive.” —Joanne Ligmari, Rio Linda School District, Sacramento, CA.

Interviews:

“Living With ADHD”, Review by the Sacramento Bee

ADHD: Either you have it or probably know someone who has it. ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, affects more than 4 million young people. Blake Taylor, a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote about his own experience in his book “ADHD & Me: What I Learned From Lighting Fires at the Dinner Table” (New Harbinger, $14.95, 192 pages). Due out in February, the book is an honest and insightful look at what it’s like to live with ADHD.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who thinks that he or she may have ADHD?

A: They should view it as a gift. There are so many wonderful qualities that come along with ADHD: intelligence, high energy, the ability to accomplish a lot, creativity, passion for a cause, innovativeness, trustworthiness, etc. But the trick is: You have to learn how to live with it and harness it.

Realize it is part of the normal spectrum of being. It is a difference. It is like being blue-eyed or left-handed. Realize that you have lots of company – there are 4 million young people with ADHD in the country.

Get the assistance you need. Go to a doctor and get diagnosed. Don’t try to do it by yourself. If you were nearsighted, you would go to get glasses, wouldn’t you?

Q: You give many tips in your book about what to do when faced with ADHD-related challenges. Do you practice what you preach?

A: Absolutely! But I still have to work hard at it every day. Some things take a long time to learn before they become routine. For example, it has always been difficult for me to be organized, although every day I become more so. In studying for exams, doing term papers, and keeping my room neat, I was often disorganized. After four years in a difficult, private high school, I finally learned how to plan out my work; I start studying for final exams one month ahead of time; I do my term papers in phases, and never procrastinate. It takes practice and perseverance.

Q: What motivated you to write this book? Did anyone help you with the development of it?

A: I came up with the idea when I was applying to private high schools and had to write an essay about a challenge that I had faced. In the essay, I talked about how I had learned to not only live with ADHD but also how to do well with it. I finished the essay by mentioning that I might want to write a book someday.

As I wrote in the book’s acknowledgment, my mother helped me edit and shape the book, and she also handled the business aspects, such as doing competitive analysis and research.

Q: Did you receive any criticism for being such a young writer?

A: Some people have been critical. At first, many of my classmates thought I had self-published the book and asked, “So how much did I pay to have it published?” Others thought that my parents “must know someone in publishing” and that is how we were able to get it in front of editors – which we didn’t. We didn’t even have an agent.

The truth is it was just hard work – along with a bit of luck. My mother and I went into bookstores and looked at all the ADHD books and their publishers. I called New York publishing houses early in the morning and wrote e-mails to editors – but got turned down. One very important thing I learned, though, was to take advice from my teacher. My writing became a lot better because I followed his suggestions.

Q: What advice would you give to young authors?

A: It is a long, hard road, and there are no short cuts. First, you have to write well and then get some trusted people who can offer advice and help you edit your work.

There is always a lot of editing and rewriting; my book went through many full edits. Then you have to do a lot of research about which publisher to approach regarding your book. You have to understand that your book needs to fit the publishing company’s plan or portfolio – and that’s where luck plays a part. You may have a great book, but if it doesn’t fit that company’s goals for the next year, it doesn’t matter if it is good. You’ll just have to try another publisher. But don’t be daunted – it’s possible for a young writer to publish a book.