Review by Olivia Germann
At first glance, The World’s Strongest Librarian looks like it would be a lovely romp about a cheeky book lover and his resulting adventures. However, what lies inside is one of the most inspirational stories that I have ever read. Mostly because the author, Josh Hanagarne, does not try to embellish his life in order to capitalize on his unique experience. Instead he opens up the gates to his life for all to see, in a truly one of a kind novel.
Hanagarne was born into a very loving Mormon family that fostered his imagination and encouraged his voracious reading habits. He describes his family honestly by not glossing over their flaws or exaggerating them, and he creates a very clear vision of what their lives are together. On the page, Hanagarne came across as an incredibly sweet and gifted child, who I connected with instantly. The story really picks up when he enters the first grade and begins to exhibit uncontrollable ticks. Immediately, his family recognizes that he has Tourette’s syndrome and faces the conundrum of how to treat his ever-growing symptoms.
The book illustrates all of the family’s fruitless attempts to help Hanagarne’s ticks lessen, by treating him with different types of therapy and medication. As readers we are able to see how helpless he feels when his ticks only worsen and cause him to spiral into a depression. But even in his darkest hour, he never gives up and ends up combatting his Tourette’s through bodybuilding, deep breathing, sheer will power and the help of many incredible people.
Above all this isn’t a sob story about his struggle with Tourette’s, and Hanagarne makes sure that the audience knows it. This book is a celebration of what he went through, and that no matter the situation, he only tried to give others hope. His sense of humor keeps the book lighter than it seems possible. Through all that he faces and in the midst of so much pain, the reader can still smile. If this book has one moral, it’s that it is not the bad times that define you but the good ones. At around 300 pages, it’s a quick read that will leave you feeling satisfied and aware that Josh Hanagarne is indeed The World’s Strongest Librarian.