Title: The Villains Who Snapped My Spine
Author: A. H. Nazzareno
The Villains Who Snapped My Spine by A.H. Nazzareno is a memoir that recounts the author’s experience as he deals with a rare medical diagnosis. Nazzareno reflects on various “villains” from the past decade in his young life that may have led to the moment he finally finds himself in when sitting in a hospital bed in 2021, when he decides to write his memoir.
Nazzareno tells his story with a mix of sarcastic wit and refreshing sobriety. His command of language in combination with his tone keeps the reader invested, both in Nazzareno’s personal journey and in the pages. We may forget at times this story is true because the author tells it so solidly and with an entertaining flair. In moments when Nazzareno brings us back to the hospital bed and he is seeing spinal fluid in a bag beside him, we are snapped back to reality and the seriousness of his condition.
The author composes his memoir with alternating chapters: one in 2021 as he is in the hospital and one at some point in the past decade. With humor, Nazzareno retells semi-crazy escapades, such as burying a cat in super-rocky ground, a haunted basement that floods, his forays with various cars that proved less than satisfying, and delivering mail in all sorts of weather and life-threatening circumstances. The format works well for this type of book, and we can make connections between the past and the present, even more so how Nazzareno ponders if something he did in his past results in his current predicament.
Nazzareno performs a careful balancing act throughout. It is easy, perhaps, to dissolve into self-pity or negativity in his circumstances. The reader can empathize with him, even though most people haven’t experienced a rare medical diagnosis, especially at a young age, that would affect every aspect of life.
In fact, we empathize with Nazzareno because much of what he writes about is relatable on a day-to-day basis. Many know the soul-crushing effect of trying to save money, only to be buried in student loans or other debt. We work hard to try to get ahead, to make that college education pay off, only to feel like it’s one step forward, two steps back. Despite Nazzareno’s rare situation, he relates to the audience through his human experience and connects with descriptive, in-the-moment language.
Although Nazzareno usually writes his humor and sarcasm in an understandable and heartfelt manner, at times, the reader may feel the author has taken it a bit far, but this doesn’t happen often. During a few of the flashback chapters, some of the scenes feel drawn out, and occasionally, the author seems sidetracked from his point.
The Villains Who Snapped My Spine is a humor-laced and sobering memoir written by a young man whose wisdom goes deeper than his years. Readers of all ages and backgrounds will find something relatable in this heartfelt and honest memoir. Nazzareno has accomplished quite a feat: he has told a true story usually written by memoirists several decades older.
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