Monday, April 6, 2009

Excess Baggage by Tracy Lea Carnes

Excess Baggage is a book about a 29-year-old woman who ends up with Ulcerative Colitis and requires ostomy surgery. On prinicple, this book is a great concept because it brings Inflammatory Bowel Disease out into the open and attempts to show readers how people live with this disease and disability.

I had several issues with the novel, mainly the main character, Kelly Carmichael. She's old enough to know better but still depends on Daddy to provide her money for rent, utilities, clothes, etc. huge pet peeve of mine! She spins through life, unable to finish college and find a decent job. Finally settling in a paralegal job and finding a boyfriend, you think she's starting to get her life pulled together and to be a responsible adult. Ultimately, however, I found Kelly difficult to relate too.

Kelly eventually realizes that she is sick, with blood and mucus in her stool, and is diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. This part makes sense. When I had Ulcerative Colitis, I didn't acknowledge it right away either. It's something that you think is just stress and will go away. Kelly is put on Prednisone to try and control the disease and is disappointed with the weight gain and moon face. Unfortunately, she spends most of her time on her mother's couch watching the Weather Channel. Not very endearing.

Kelly eventually has ostomy surgery because she hates being fat...so does her boyfriend, who's pretty dispicable himself.

The book didn't really explain UC or ostomies at all, so unless you are already aware of them, you might be confused. I also thought Kelly bounced back and accepted such a life changing operation a little too quickly to be believable. But then again, I had my surgery over 25 years ago so I may not remember it quite right :)

My biggest issue with the book was not the author or the story. It was the editing. Lots of grammatical errors and spelling errors threw me off. Unfortunately, misspelling the word "ileostomy" everywhere except in the author's bio was the final nail. The editors should have caught that one.
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