With ‘Uncontrollable,’ Staggs retakes control

PHOTO: Sara Staggs (Courtesy photo)

For the Jewish Review
Sara Staggs forged a career as a civil rights litigator while also raising two children – an impressive accomplishment on its own made more so by her life-long struggle with epilepsy. But after a pair of brain surgeries, doctors told her she needed to move into less stressful work. 
Staggs has found her way into writing with the May 2023 release of her first novel, “Uncontrollable.” 
The work is autofictional. Her protagonist mirrors her own circumstances as an epileptic attorney forced to choose her career or her health, and the novel draws deeply from the details of her own life without being purely autobiographical. 
Sara’s mission is to normalize the mystique around epilepsy. Over 3 million people in the United States have epilepsy, 65 million worldwide: it’s the fourth-most common neurological condition in the U.S.
Staggs is quick to explain she had spent years writing as a litigator, but she needed to relearn how to write fiction. It was a different process than law briefs. Committed to the project, she signed up for writing classes, including a summer seminar at Yale University, to hone her craft.
She was successful – The Pacific Book Review wrote that “Staggs has created a compelling story that tackles complex themes with sensitivity and nuance. This is a book that anyone interested in adult drama genres should read. Well written, incredibly interesting, raw, and unique, ‘Uncontrollable’ is a book that readers are not likely to forget.”
Raised at a conservative synagogue in Dallas, Staggs is now an active member of Congregation Shaarie Torah, where she sits on the board of directors. She also has an enthusiasm for high-heeled footwear that goes back to her teen years. These two passions intersected quite dramatically, she recalled, when she accidentally stepped on a women’s foot while dancing at Rabbi Gary Oren’s wedding celebration. 
“Uncontrollable” is available at Powells Books, Annie Bloom Books, and other booksellers. 
Gloria Hammer, a Portland educator and Pilates instructor, has written for The Jewish Review for over 20 years. She was a producer for OPB’s Emmy-nominated documentary “The Three Rabbis.” 


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