Sweet Tooth: a Memoir by Tim Anderson

sweet tooth (1)Tim Anderson’s memoir Sweet Tooth is the first ARC I’ve accepted in a very long time.  I’m glad I did.

Mr. Anderson begins his memoir just before the summer of his 15th year when he discovers that he has type 1 diabetes and that he likes boys.  Of course he thinks God is punishing him for liking boys by giving him diabetes; what else would a nice Christian boy from North Carolina in the summer of 1980 have thought?

That Mr. Anderson’s youth reflects much of my own is not the only reason why I enjoyed Sweet Tooth.  I’m just a little bit older than Mr. Anderson so I also survived the 1980’s, but I don’t necessarily want to read about them. What I found most interesting was his account of coming of age with diabetes.  To be honest, I had no idea how difficult this disease could be.

For example, I knew fluctuating blood sugar levels were dangerous, but I did not know that they can produce changes in one’s mental state that make it look like you’re very drunk or very stoned, or that you may or may not remember what you did after your blood sugar returns to a normal level.  That type 1 diabetics go through these wild personality shifts for years until they have their blood sugar figured out was also news to me.

That some teenagers, like Mr. Anderson, live recklessly and end up close to death due to mismanaging their sugar intake comes as no surprise however.  It’s to Mr. Anderson’s credit that he is so frank about how badly he behaved as a teenager.  He’s lucky to be alive, but then so many of us are.

But can a gay type 1 diabetic teenager find true love in North Carolina in the 1980’s?  Yes.  But it takes a long time, a very long time.  Young Tim Anderson’s attempts at romance fail and fail again, until they finally succeed, which is probably familiar territory to most of us, gay and straight, diabetic or not.  Either I’m not as jaded as I sometimes think I am, or Mr. Anderson is a good story-teller (possibly both) because I found the romantic sections of Sweet Tooth to be very entertaining.

But no matter what the subject is, the search for love or sugar, a memoir succeeds or fails on the strength of its voice.  One may or may not particularly care about gay teenagers or diabetic teenagers; it’s the narrator’s voice that keeps the reader going or drives him away.  In the case of Sweet Tooth, it kept me going.

Mr. Anderson’s narration is informal, there’s no flights of stylistic fancy going on in Sweet Tooth.  Instead, his narration is friendly, inviting, much like a really good blog.  I know that is often stated as an insult, but I mean it as a compliment here.  Reading Mr. Anderson’s memoir was like reading one of the many blogs I have been following these past six years as a book blogger.  It was like an extended Sunday Salon post.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sweet Tooth, and I’m officially accepting additional ARC’s as of now.

The good people at Lake Union Publishing and TLC Book Tours have made a copy of Sweet Tooth available for one of my readers.  If you’re interested, please let me know in a comment.  I’ll have Dakota select a winning name later this week.

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4 Comments

  1. I’m glad to see that you really enjoyed this one! Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  2. James,
    I’m eager to read Sweet Tooth. I so enjoy memoirs that are narrated as straight-forward, honest communication about the writer’s personal experiences and feelings. I’d enjoy being included in the draw for the book. I find that memoir breaks down barriers among people and creates greater understanding, and that’s one of the primary reasons I include the reading of a memoir in my first-year writing classes at the college. I’m always looking for new titles!
    Judith

  3. Lisa Munley says:

    James, thank you so much for a great review and for being on the tour! Sweet Tooth sounds really appealing.

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