The Puzzle Solver: A Scientist’s Desperate Quest to Cure the Illness That Stole His Son

Tracie White with Ronald W. Davis. Hachette, $28 (240p) ISBN 978-0-316-49250-8
Journalist White debuts with a moving look at “legendary Stanford University scientist” Davis and his fight to cure his son’s chronic fatigue syndrome. After having “gained a reputation as the go-to writer for tragic stories,” White was assigned a piece on Davis and his son Whitney Dafoe, a 31-year-old former artist who was so ill that he couldn’t eat or speak. White explains how misunderstood chronic fatigue is: in the mid-1980s, several hundred cases were reported near Lake Tahoe, which brought “the nation’s attention to what would become known as ME/CFS,” but with few answers, the disease came to be known by many as “yuppie flu.” While there is still no known cause or treatments, White writes, Davis has dedicated himself to researching the illness; using prize money from an award, he set up an ME/CFS lab and in 2015 released a report that led to a “shift within the mainstream scientific community” toward understanding chronic fatigue as a real, biological disease. The author’s keen commitment to capturing Dafoe’s illness and Davis’s work makes for a story of heartbreak balanced with unexpected beauty. White succeeds in casting chronic fatigue syndrome in a new light in this inspirational account. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/18/2020
Release date: 01/05/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-6254-1
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