What’s a sweets-loving young boy growing up gay in North Carolina in the eighties supposed to think when he’s diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? That God is punishing him, naturally.
This was, after all, when gay-hating Jesse Helms was his senator, AIDS was still the boogeyman, and no one was saying, “It gets better.” And if stealing a copy of a gay porno magazine from the newsagent was a sin, then surely what the men inside were doing to one another was much worse.
Sweet Tooth is Tim Anderson’s uproarious memoir of life after his hormones and blood sugar both went berserk at the age of fifteen. With Morrissey and The Smiths as the soundtrack, Anderson self-deprecatingly recalls love affairs with vests and donuts, first crushes, coming out, and inaugural trips to gay bars. What emerges is the story of a young man trying to build a future that won’t involve crippling loneliness or losing a foot to his disease—and maybe even one that, no matter how unpredictable, can still be pretty sweet.
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I ate Sweet Tooth up. Seriously. I found myself cracking a smile every so often and trying not to snicker in public when reading on the train. For a type-1 Diabetic bookworm, it’s both a relief and insightful to read another type-1 diabetic’s experiences.
I was diagnosed with type-1 Diabetes in the 80’s, when I was four years old. Things were very different then, in many ways. The amount of items we need to carry around is one thing, but back in those days devices were larger, finger-prickers were scarier, insulin pens did not exist, and there was definitely more ignorance.
I wasn’t particularly social when I was younger. I was a rather anxious, timid child and even the mention of going away on a diabetic camp terrified me. There were diabetic parties to go to though and I went to several. I did not love them from being surrounded by other diabetic-peers. It was the diabetic ice-cream bars we were given after dinner (ice cream and dough-nuts are my kryptonite).
As I grew up, I lost touch with all the tentative friendships I could possibly make (read two). With that went any of the shared information and experiences you could have with other diabetics. There’s only so much a non-diabetic can understand. The most common being that diabetics are not perfect. We’re human. We need to rebel (especially during our teen years). We need to push the boundaries of our confining disease. We do get frustrated. Blood sugars aren’t always perfect. Just because it’s recommended we not eat sugar, doesn’t mean we can’t. And yes, we need to learn. Sometimes we even need to re-learn again and again.
This is one reason why, if I ever come across another type-1 diabetic (unfortunately we don’t have TYPE-1 DIABETIC tattooed on our foreheads), I’m going to suggest they read Sweet Tooth. Sure, maybe they don’t read, or maybe they read, but detest memoirs. Too bad, I say to them, just too bad.
Sweet Tooth does contain many a homosexual theme, which is not surprising given Tim’s sexuality. I did not have a problem with this at all. I am bisexual and I like to think I’m open-minded. I did love being able to read Tim’s frankness when it came to his struggles with his sexuality and his stumbles when it came to navigating through his younger life. Eventually his lack of insulin and his sexuality become such an integral part of his life, the humour-infused commentary on both is a definite running theme by mid-way of this memoir. I personally think they compliment each-other and also complicate each-other.
Tim has such a great way with words and I really cannot comment from a non-diabetic’s point-of-view. My life is so entwined with diabetes, I couldn’t help picking up on the frustrations he felt, appreciating his wonderful sense of humour, and being grateful for his honesty. It doesn’t matter that I was diagnosed as a child and Tim was diagnosed in his mid-teens. Diabetes sucks no matter what decade you get it or what age you are. This is a great memoir for those diabetics who are isolated, or not, and want to connect in some way with another. Even if it is one-sided.
- Genre: Non Fiction – Memoir – Add to Goodreads
- Rating Out of Five: ♥♥♥♥*
- Meet The Author: Website – Goodreads – Facebook – See Tim Blog
- Format: eARC Published: March 11, 2014, by Lake Union Publishing
- Special Thanks To: TLC Book Tours and Lake Union Publishing
- Find At: Bookworld AU – Bookworld Audio – Bookfari AU – Amazon AU – Wordery – Book Depository – Amazon US