Audiobooks: Christine Hyung-Oak Lee | Xpress Reviews

Week ending August 11, 2017

Lee, Christine Hyung-Oak. Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember. digital download. 7:26 hrs. Harper Audio. Feb. 2017. ISBN 9780062669957. $29.99. MEMOIR
On New Year’s Eve 2006, Lee, who worked as the human resources director at a small company and was married to her college boyfriend, suffered a stroke. She was 33. She would spend the better part of a decade recovering; in the process, she lost her short-term memory, her marriage, and her sense of self. By the time she wrote this memoir, she had become a mother and reinvented herself. As compelling as Lee’s story is—her 2014 Buzzfeed essay, “I Had a Stroke at 33,” went viral—it falls flat as literature, bogged down especially by repetition, teetering between a disturbing mix of self-deprecating humor and blinding desperation. Narrator Emily Woo Zeller narrates as if she’s only too aware of the book’s flaws, merely pushing through to get to the end, especially when facing daunting stretches of medical and psychological jargon. That Lee and Zeller share an Asian background also doesn’t ensure an automatic match, nor does Zeller having grown up hearing Chinese spoken at home mean she can accurately pronounce Korean, which is Lee’s heritage.
Verdict Despite engrossing true-life experiences, this work ultimately disappoints. [“This absolutely fascinating memoir will give readers a fresh appreciation for the skills we use daily, as well as increased empathy for those going through any kind of recovery”: LJ 12/15/16 review of the HarperCollins hc.]—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

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