Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 378 - The Sugarless Plum

The Sugarless Plum
Zippora Karz

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Release Date: November 2009

Publisher: Harlequin

Pages: 288

My Rating: 3.25/5

Source: Copy provided by publisher

Synopsis [from]:

It started as the perfect story. Zippora Karz was a member of the famed New York City Ballet by the age of eighteen. By twenty she was starring as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, dancing roles created by Jerome Robbins, and traveling the world.
It was the stuff dreams are made of until, at age twenty-one, Karz became exhausted, dizzy and excessively thirsty. Heavy pancake makeup covered the sores under her arms that would not heal, but she neglected to go to the doctor. When she finally did, she was diagnosed with diabetes, and learned that if she continued to ignore her symptoms, she risked heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation of her toes, feet and legs. She struggled to get the correct diagnosis and treatment, first thinking she had Type-2 diabetes, when in fact she had Type 1, juvenile diabetes. Once placed on an insulin regimen to regulate her blood sugar, she would inject herself with unsafe doses before going on stage in misguided attempts to obtain peak performance. The potentially fatal result of Karz's self-experimentation became all too real when she nearly lost consciousness. Her weight dropped and she became dangerously ill.

Balancing ballet and her blood sugar would be a long and difficult struggle for Karz, but eventually she learned to value her body and work with it, rather than rage at its limitations. In The Sugarless Plum, Karz shares her journey from denial, shame and miseducation about her illness to how she led an active, balanced and satisfying life as an insulin-dependent diabetic and soloist with one of the world's most famous ballet companies. Through her fascinating story, those struggling with diabetes and other serious illnesses can find encouragement and inspiration as well as practical advice on achieving physical and emotional wellness.

After sixteen years with the New York City Ballet, Karz retired and took her passion and skills into a whole new arena as a diabetes educator and advocate, where today she inspires people to not just manage their illness, but to thrive and fulfill their passions. The Sugarless Plum takes readers deep into the heart and soul of a young dancer, and is a remarkable testament to determination and perseverance.


THE SUGARLESS PLUM is a powerful story that will reach out to those who suffer from diabetes and even touch those who have never encountered it on a personal level. Zippora's struggles are portrayed honestly and with a lot of emotion as she re-tells the story of her younger years, her ballet career, and struggling to balance her life with her diagnosis. She not only shares her personal and professional life to readers but she reaches out to others with diabetes by providing resource materials near the end of the book.

Zippora is well known for her portrayal of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Tchaikovsky's THE NUTCRACKER from 1983-1999 at the New York City Ballet where she became a soloist. She goes into detail about the joys, the hard work, and even the pain that all ballet dancers must go through. It really is a physical and emotional battle to be a ballerina and I had no idea. Learning more about these different kinds of athletes was extremely eye opening.

This memior isn't just a story of a woman surviving and living with diabetes. It's not about a talented dancer learning to overcome different obstacles in order to keep their career. THE SUGARLESS PLUM is more of an inspirational story that has the potential to touch and motivate any person that is facing any kind of life challenge. I think Zippora describes things best when she says, "My story is about living a full life, and not letting obstacles defeat you and dissuade you from following your heart."

You can download and read and excerpt by clicking here!


Heather H. said...

I normally don't read memoirs, but as a type-1 diabetic, I'm definitely interested in checking out this one. (Although I'd probably want to chuck the book across the room when it gets to injecting-unsafe-doses parts.)

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