Gillian Flynn
October 10, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Julie Gregory
publisher
Bantam
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it an A

When Julie was a good girl, Mom treated her to a pack of pretty, red-tipped matches and stroked her hair as she sucked the nauseating sulfur. By her teens, she’d swallowed thousands of pills, endured an invasive heart procedure, and was starving to death. Julie Gregory was a victim of MBP, in which a caregiver, usually a mother, sickens a child in order to get sympathy for herself. Sickened, her memoir, has the queasy, free-floating feel of dirty oil on water: It’s lovely, uneasy writing (she equates reminiscence about her youth to ”pulling a fine hair out of the back of my throat”). Gregory’s medical records and disturbingly cheery family photos only increase the discomfort. And no fictional creation is as frightening as her former rodeo-riding mother, a smothering, suffering woman who sang like an angel and got twitchy with excitement when her daughter was hurting.

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