Author: Lily Bailey
Summary: Fascinating, moving, impossible to put down.
“By the age of thirteen, Lily Bailey was convinced she was bad. She had killed someone with a thought, spread untold disease, and ogled the bodies of other children. Only by performing an exhausting series of secret routines could she make up for what she’d done. But no matter how intricate or repetitive, no act of penance was ever enough.”(source) This is the story of her struggle to live with her OCD.
This memoir was so engaging and hard to put down, it felt a little voyeuristic. It made me feel less bad that the author clearly intended this to be an engaging read. The chapters were short and snappy. They often ended on a cliff hanger. I constantly wanted to find out what happened next and devoured this book in only two sittings. The author also wrote about her experiences in an evocative way. Not having shared her experience of having OCD, I felt she helped me understand better what that’s like. I never found her behavior inexplicable. She shared what she was feeling – fear for her little sister, for example – so vividly that I was right there with her. Something I thought was particularly effective was when she described a delusion as though at were real, only sharing with the reader that the events were imagined as she came to that realization herself.
Note that in the next paragraph, there are spoilers about the tone of the ending. Feel free to skip.
Blah, blah, giving you some time to run from the spoilers…
Ok, here we go…
Having recently read The Recovering by Leslie Jamison, I couldn’t help but notice that this was a recovery memoir. Although the author does indicate that she still has some bad days, in general, she leaves us on a very positive note. I can’t say that bothered me. It was obviously the ending I hoped for, but it also seemed believable. I hope she’s not painting an overly positive picture to give the reader a sense of closure, because her memoir certainly left me rooting for her. The ending was also quite moving and is what pushed this up to a five star read for me. I picked this up on a bit of whim and I’m glad I did. I’d definitely recommend it.