The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Monday, March 1, 2010

Synopsis: In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the 43-year-old editor-in-chief of Elle magazine in France, suffered from a stroke. When he woke up from a coma, he discovers he has a rare condition called "locked-in syndrome," which completely paralyzes the body. The mind, however, is left functioning normally. Still, he urges himself to move on with his life. With the help of a speech therapist, he decides to account his thoughts, feelings, and dreams in little fragments, using only his eyelid -- his only remaining functioning body part -- to express himself and tell his story. Through this heart wrenching and unbelievable challenge he knew he had to face, he came up with this memoir.

Review: This is a unique and extremely contemplative and insightful account, of a disturbing and an uncomfortable topic. The author of this memoir "wrote" the book by blinking his eyes to spell the alphabet. He first had to learn how to do this, and practiced it for a while, before starting this.
Though it is a heart breaking situation, it is not a sad story. In fact, it was actually uplifting, knowing that despite the horrible circumstances he was forced to face, he still found a way to persevere and overcome them, in his own ways.
That having said, I highly recommend this book. Forget for a moment the technicalities of how a book should be, because this memoir is all about the story itself. It is simply, about a man and his courage, despite the odds. This will definitely linger in my mind for a long time.


  1. wow.. sounds like a tear jerker, but beautifully moving I'm sure. Great review!

  2. I haven't heard of this book, and it sounds very interesting. Books that linger in your mind are always the best. 31 Hours by Masha Hamilton did that to me, great read.

  3. Just splurged on this one because I've heard such wonderful things about it. Your review confirms those impressions. Thanks!

  4. @Sarah: It actually is! Thanks for the comment :)

    @Jennifer: I just checked out the plot synopsis of 31 Hours. It sure sounds interesting! I might have to add that to my TBR list. haha, thanks!

    @ds: You're very welcome! Looking forward to your review as well.

  5. Sounds like a very interesting book. Great review. Will have to check this book out.

    I noticed you are interested in getting into Nursing school. Good luck! I graduated in May. It was 4 years of not so much fun studying but it was all worth it. :)

  6. wow, this sounds inspiring! its amazing what a person can accomplish.

  7. Great review of a fascinating book. I think most people's exposure to this book came via the movie by the same name - which was EXCELLENT. Have you seen the movie? It really does a great job of portraying his progression from anger at the world to acceptance to his realization that he could still do something spectacular: this memoir!

    Hey, cool blog, too - I just found you and am following now. Looking forward to what you have to say.


  8. I LOVE your blog, and I am passing on a blog award! meme Details here:

  9. Sounds like an inspiring and worthy read. Next visit to the library, I'll look for it. Btw, I'm a speech pathologist. Strokes are frightening. No two people are affected the same way-- quite amazing how patients who remain impaired learn to compensate.

  10. @LCzinha: Congratulations for surviving nursing school and for being an RN! I'm actually on my 3rd year already, but not in the program.. YET. I will know this Spring. *crosses fingers* haha.

    @Greg Zimmerman: Thank you for following! And yes, I have seen the movie a few years ago and LOVED it. I can't actually believe I've waited this long to read the book.

    @s.meadow: Thanks so much for that! I will be posting that asap :)

    @CozyBookNook: I work at a speech therapy/tutoring place for children with cerebral palsy. It is not quite the same as stroke, but I completely understand what you mean by how amazing it is how they learn not only to compensate, but even exceed expectations and their capabilities.

  11. Well, I'm sold! I'll be adding this to my TBR! :)

  12. @StephtheBookworm: Can't wait to hear what you thought of it, when you get to read it! :)


  13. شركة نقل عفش بالرياض وجدة والدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
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