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Summary

A searing memoir of reckoning and healing by acclaimed journalist Stephanie Foo, investigating the little-understood science behind complex PTSD and how it has shaped her life. 

Every cell in my body is filled with the code of generations of trauma, of death, of birth, of migration, of history that I cannot understand.... I want to have words for what my bones know. 

By age 30, Stephanie Foo was successful on paper: she had her dream job as an award-winning radio producer at This American Life and a loving boyfriend. But behind her office door, she was having panic attacks and sobbing at her desk every morning. After years of questioning what was wrong with herself, she was diagnosed with complex PTSD—a condition that occurs when trauma happens continuously, over the course of years. 

Both of Foo's parents abandoned her when she was a teenager, after years of physical and verbal abuse and neglect. She thought she'd moved on, but her new diagnosis illuminated the way her past continued to threaten her health, relationships and career. She found limited resources to help her, so Foo set out to heal herself, and to map her experiences onto the scarce literature about C-PTSD. 

In this deeply personal and thoroughly researched account, Foo interviews scientists and psychologists and tries a variety of innovative therapies. She returns to her hometown in California to investigate the effects of immigrant trauma on the community, and she uncovers family secrets in the country of her birth, Malaysia, to learn how trauma can be inherited through generations. Ultimately, she discovers that you don't move on from trauma—but you can learn to move with it. 

Powerful, enlightening and hopeful, What My Bones Know is a brave narrative that reckons with the hold of the past over the present, the mind over the body—and examines one woman's ability to reclaim agency from her trauma. 

©2022 Stephanie Foo (P)2022 W F Howes

Critic reviews

“Achingly exquisite…providing real hope for those who long to heal.” (Lori Gottlieb, author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone)

"A sharp, insightful and stirring memoir." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Foo's writing is shrewdly insightful. Highly recommended." (Library Journal, starred review)

What listeners say about What My Bones Know

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Fabulous

Must read for cptsd learning
Highly recommended for understanding peace and new strength within ourselves

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An exceptional read! Dont pass it by!

Top books on childhood trauma.

This was a pleasure to read. Such a difficult topic was brought to life by the authors honest personal account of her own experiance. This book is filled with research, theories while having a sense of humour. I am going to tell everyone about this book!!!

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Amazingly powerful book

I am filled with hope after listening to this. Such beautiful writing, I love how it’s a narrative book but also feels like self help too, but with so much realness! I relate so much to your way of thinking and to your outlook on life. In places, your words had me laughing, crying and cringing. Especially chuckled at how “seen” I felt through listening to your reflections. Thank you for giving those of us with cPTSD a voice and some hope. I too have struggled a lot with coming to terms with the diagnosis but feel less “alone” with it since hearing your journey.

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GRATEFUL TO HAVE FOUND THIS BOOK

Beautifully narrated and thank you for sharing your therapy sessions. A remarkable insight into CPTSD. When the sky falls, use it as a blanket.

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incredible, insightful story, told masterfully

This is an incredible, beautiful, insightful story, told masterfully, with skill, integrity, courage and generosity. I've never 'ready an audio book so voraciously.

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Stunning and vital for those who have, or work with or love a person who suffers with C-PTSD

As a survivor and a relational counsellor myself, this book is superb on every level. Personal disclosure, well researched and very touching.
A total must read!!