This is the first book I've came across with a 18PG warning after its blurb, but it was the picture on the cover that drew me towards it. A disturbing figure sits crosslegged, naked and hunched, hands gripping its bowed head in frustration. I reached out for it, read the blurb, purchased it, and I havent let it out of my sight since, re-reading excerpts of it when I can.
Bernie Tan, born Mary Bernadette Tan, writes about her harrowing journey through alchoholism (age 14), drugs (age 16-24), eating disorders (age 18), and even being institutionalised at the State Mental Hospital in Tanjung Rambutan (age 20), of her childhood, her dysfunctional family, living on the streets, starvation, eating cockroaches, and launching her brilliant advertising career (age 24), only to face a tragic motor accident which had her crippled in one leg, deaf in one ear, and 70% blind.
Bernie now lives on state welfare in PJ with her dog and six cats, moves around on a bicycle, has since found solace in religion, and does weekly street counselling to drug addicts.
This autobiography is written without frills, extreme drama, neither is it sympathy eliciting nor does it have wince or goosebump inducing corny lines, unlike most of the "oh I was a bad boy before... but now..." kinda story. It draws you into its own world(s) as Bernie lived them. it includes a last chapter, "Diary of A Handicapped Girl & Her Dog Named Junior", which aptly echos the image on the cover, and why "you can't go home again".
A worthy read indeed, although I can't quite figure out why "Parental guidance is advised for readers under 18". Because of its "explicit material"? It quite pales in comparison with tv shows on ASTRO or the gore in computer games these days. What does parental guidance mean anyway? Sitting beside the impressionable kid, holding hands, and saying things like, "Drugs are bad mmmkay?"
Anyway its a good book and I'm going to let my kid brothers read it =P It'll do him much more good than playing RO all night long anyway. graceshu # 10:15 PM