The Puzzle Solver: A Scientist’s Desperate Quest to Cure the Illness That Stole His Son

Hachette. Jan. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780316492508. $28. SCI
Before Whitney Dafoe was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (now commonly known as ME/CFS), he was an avid photographer and political activist. Whitney has now lived with ME/CFS for more than a decade, gradually losing his vitality, energy, and tolerance for even the smallest sensory input. Currently, Whitney cannot walk, talk, or eat without assistance. While many other people live with ME/CFS, Whitney’s case is unique because his father is Ron Davis, a world-renowned genetic scientist at Stanford University. Davis, who helped develop the techniques used in the Human Genome Project, changed the course of his research in the wake of Whitney’s illness to focus on finding a cure for ME/CFS. He quickly learned that the disease is largely misunderstood by the medical community, often dismissed as psychological in origin, and attracts little government research funding. Science journalist White documents this heartbreaking story with palpable emotion, recounting Whitney’s failing health, his family’s dedication to his care, and Ron’s efforts to secure funding for ME/CFS research. Although clear answers remain elusive, readers will be inspired by Ron’s devotion
VERDICT Both tragic and uplifting, this title will be of particular interest to readers seeking more information about ME/CFS and anyone curious about medical mysteries.
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