Title: You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face Blindness, and Forgiveness
Author: Heather Sellers
Release Date: October 14, 2010
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
In her memoir, Heather Sellers recounts her dysfunctional childhood, growing up with her schizophrenic mother and her alcoholic father. For a long time, Heather didn’t realize that her mother was mentally ill, and this revelation helps Heather to understand her condition of face blindness.
When I first picked up You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know, I knew the subtitle – A True Story of Family, Face Blindness, and Forgiveness – meant that Sellers would discuss her family and come to terms with some issues about them, but that wasn’t why I was picking up this book. I wanted to read this book because I was intrigued by Heather’s prosopagnosia, or face blindness. I wanted to learn more about this condition, how Heather was diagnosed, and how she lives with it from day to day.
Sellers does discuss her face blindness at length towards the end of the book, and it’s really interesting. Basically, the author does not have the ability to remember and recognize facial characteristics, and for the longest time, she didn’t realize this was a condition. Her colleagues thought she was merely rude, too stuck up to acknowledge them when she saw them in the hallway or outside of work. As a result, Heather retreated into herself. What shocked me the most, though, is how people reacted once Heather finally “came out” (her words). Instead of understanding, or trying to learn more about her condition, many simply didn’t believe her. While this is partially a testament to Heather’s ability to “fake it” – relying on hairstyles, posture, and other indicators to recognize a person – I couldn’t imagine the pain the author felt at this turn of events.
However, You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know wasn’t what I expected. Most of the book revolved around Heather’s dysfunctional upbringing and her current issues with her new marriage. While it certainly was interesting, I constantly found myself wishing that Sellers would focus on her condition, rather than her difficult childhood and teen years (which she discuss at extreme length). Had I been aware that this wasn’t a memoir about face blindness, but how Heather’s parentage and upbringing contributed to her difficulties later in life, and how she overcomes these issues, I may have been satisfied. However, since I was in the mood to read about the peculiarities of prosopagnosia, I found much of this memoir unsatisfying.
Still, You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know is a book worth reading. Heather’s triumph over adversity is both satisfying and inspirational. Additionally, when she does turn the focus towards her face blindness towards the end of the book, it’s fascinating. While I still would like to know more about prosopagnosia, I definitely found this memoir interesting and would recommend it to those interested in books such as The Glass Castle and Breaking Night.