The Puzzle Solver by Tracie White

I have been given the wonderful opportunity to be an #ownvoices reader for The Puzzle Solver, a true story about the struggle to diagnose and treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (something I struggle with myself).

Thank you Hachette Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: At the age of twenty-seven, Whitney Dafoe was forced to give up his life as a photographer who traveled the world. Bit by bit a mysterious illness stole away the pieces of his life: First, it took the strength of his legs, then his voice, and his ability to eat. Finally, even the sound of a footstep in his room became unbearable. The Puzzle Solver follows several years in which he desperately sought answers from specialist after specialist, where at one point his 6’3″ frame dropped to 115 lbs. For years, he underwent endless medical tests, but doctors told him there was nothing wrong. Then, finally, a diagnosis: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis. In the 80s, when an outbreak of people immobilized by an indescribable fatigue were reported near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, doctors were at a loss to explain the symptoms. The condition would alternatively be nicknamed Raggedy Ann Syndrome or the Yuppie Disease, and there was no cure or answers about treatment. They were to remain sick. But there was one answer: Whitney’s father, Ron Davis, PhD, a world-class geneticist at Stanford University whose legendary research helped crack the code of DNA, suddenly changed the course of his career in a race against time to cure his son’s debilitating condition. In The Puzzle Solver, journalist Tracie White, who first wrote a viral and award-winning piece on Davis and his family in Stanford Medicine, tells his story. In gripping prose, she masterfully takes readers along on this journey with Davis to solve one of the greatest mysteries in medicine. In a piercing investigative narrative, closed doors are opened, and masked truths are exposed as Davis uncovers new proof confirming that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a biological disease. At the heart of this book is a moving story that goes far beyond medicine, this is a story about how the power of love — and science — can shine light in even the darkest, most hidden, corners of the world. 

This book is POWERFUL. It’s emotional, captivating, and eye-opening. I completely understood and FELT every single emotion going into it, and I think that makes me want to recommend this book even more (even if you don’t have CFS). As someone who struggled for years to get a proper diagnosis, I couldn’t put that struggle and frustration into words as well as Tracie has explained. I think this book is even more poignant to read during these times as those that are recovering from COVID-19 are showing signs of developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. You will definitely want to read this as soon as possible!

5/5 Stars

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