Title: The Sugarless Plum
Author: Zippora Karz
Publication Date: October 27, 2009
Hardcover: 277 pages
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 poignant memoir of Zippora Karz’s life as a ballerina and a diabetic. Karz writes beautifully, without self-pity of her struggles and successes as she rises through the ranks of The New York City Ballet while at the same time struggling with being a diabetic. She speaks from her heart and unabashedly speaks of the mistakes she made along the way to living a healthy lifestyle with Type 1 Diabetes. As she struggles to maintain the life of a dancer as well as regain her health, Karz takes the reader through her highs and lows and the valuable lessons she learns along the way. The Sugarless Plum is a beautiful memoir by itself as well as a motivational boost for anyone struggling with a life long disease. Karz includes a resource section in her book for those with diabetes or those who know someone who does, as she extends her passion not only as a dancer, but also as a teacher and as an advocate speaking out to educate those dealing with diabetes. I would not hesitate to recommend this inspirational memoir.
Zippora Karz, author of The Sugarless Plum:A Ballerina’s Triumph Over Diabetes, danced with the New York City Ballet from 1983 through 1999. She now serves as a teacher and répetitéur for the George Balanchine Trust, rehearsing and staging Balanchine’s choreography for a host of international dance companies. She is also a diabetes spokesperson and educator who regularly addresses major diabetes conferences and organizations worldwide. She lives in Los Angeles, California. For more information, please visit her website.
I would live to thank FSB Media for supplying me with a copy of this book. My review was in no part influenced by my receiving a free review copy.