March 12, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Best-selling author/illustrator Becker (”All I Need to Know I Learned From My Cat”) cleverly uses cartoons, photos, and great writing to create a unique tragicomedy of a memoir. After years of suffering from mysterious seizures, Becker underwent brain surgery in 1999 to remove a benign mass — only to suffer severe speech and memory loss for several months afterward. Warning to the squeamish: Becker doesn’t spare the details, real or imagined. Just before going under the knife, she likens her brain surgery to ”popping a zit” and draws her growth as a scruffy, snaggletoothed troll. Becker manages to cram nearly every page with offbeat sketches, bizarro to-do lists, and regular visits from her bespectacled cartoon alter-ego Augusta. The author is so likable, even in her darkest hour, that as you applaud her recovery you also realize you’ll miss looking after her.

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