Heather Sellers is face-blindthat is, she has prosopagnosia, a rare neurological condition that prevents her from reliably recognizing people's faces. Growing up, unaware of the reason for her perpetual confusion and anxiety, she took what cues she could from speech, hairstyle, and gait. The truth was revealed two decades later when Heather took the man she would marry home to meet her parents and discovered the astonishing truth about her family and about herself. In this uplifting memoir, Sellers illuminates a deeper truth: that even in the most chaotic and heartbreaking of families, love may be seen and felt.
Heather Sellers is the author of the story collection Georgia Under Water and several books on writing. A poet, essayist, and frequent contributor to O: The Oprah Magazine, The Sun, and other publications, she teaches at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
- Sellers struggles, as a child, to find safety with her mother and then with her father. As an adult, in what ways does she comes to terms with each parent's failure to provide that safety and constancy?
- Sellers' mother constantly checks locked doors, and worries she is being followed. Her father cross-dresses and drinks around the clock. In what ways are her parents alike, and in what key ways are they different?
- Sellers never finds out the cause of her face blindness. She also never discovers a diagnosis for her father's strange, disturbing behaviors. A major theme running through the book is this: how do we come to know anything for certain, and how do we come to terms with what we will never know about our own families? In your experience, is this a universal truth of growing up?
- There is so much chaos, difficulty, despair, and even terror in Sellers's childhood. Yet the author sees humor in mother's weird rituals, and finds delight in the perfect pink skirt. What do you make of the humor, warmth, honesty, and courage that runs through many of the chapters? What emotions did you experience while reading the book?
- What do you make of Sellers's stance towards her family? Would you feel similarly or different, if the circumstances of your childhood were comparable to the difficult home life portrayed in You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know?
- How do you think face blindness affected the author as a writer?
- In the Afterword to the book, Sellers talks about "the gift of prosopagnosia." What do you think she sees as the gifts of face blindness? Are these truly gifts?
- Sellers figures out her face blindness and her mother's illness almost simultaneously. How are the two quests similar? How are they different?
- When Sellers presents her research and self-diagnosis to her primary care physician and then a local neurologist her certainty is met with disbelief. Have you had experiences where you weren't believed? How did you react? Does not being believed help us stake a claim?
- Sellers recalls that when she presented her first draft of the memoir to her writer's group and an editor, people responded, This is too raw. How could you live this way? Is the story she tells "too raw"? Why or why not?
- By Heather Sellers' own account, prosopagnosia (face blindness) caused her constant confusion and anxiety. Yet she did not identify her disability until she was nearly 40. Why did it take her so long?
- When Sellers marries Dave, a warm and loving man with two sons, the marriage unravels almost before it begins. Why do you suppose they married? Why did they divorce? What does Sellers take away from each of those decisions?