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Book Review: Hyper

In this personal history, Timothy Denevi tackles both growing up with ADHD and raising a son with the condition with humor, grace, and enlightening insights.

by Timothy Denevi (Simon & Schuster)

Timothy Denevi writes about growing up with ADHD in Hyperstarting with his earliest complete memory — a meltdown at age five. He finishes the book by writing about his son, Jack, attending his first day of kindergarten. Denevi gives readers — adults with ADHD, parents of kids with the condition, educators — a chance to see, feel, and think about the world of a boy with ADHD.

Denevi’s treatment experiences are atypical but enlightening. His body’s sensitivity to medications in general, and his negative response to stimulants, are not the norm. Denevi’s and his mother’s wariness about meds — what they will do to his body, brain, and personality, and how his friends would react if they knew he was taking them — are typical.

Denevi details his school experiences, social interactions, and relationships with his parents in a way that made me root for him, and kept me reading to see what happened next. Readers with ADHD will find affirmation of their own thoughts and emotions, while those without the condition will experience revelations.

Denevi alternates between recounting his life story and the history of ADHD — how psychologists and psychiatrists thought about and described the disorder through the years. The format works well: facts and perspective about ADHD in the background, as Denevi’s personal story plays out on the main stage.