review from Sarah Handel- NPR Talk of the Nation (AP)

5 May

Tweeted Review from Sarah Handel- NPR Talk of the Nation

Mar 28 2011
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Nowhere Near Normal, by Traci Foust

I read this book last weekend. First, this is awesome because I was home this weekend, not traveling (a rarity), and I read an entire book. It’s not hard for me to do, in terms of words and page counts, but I’m just never home for a full weekend, with the time to do so. But even on weekends when I do have the time to take a book from cover to cover, I often don’t. Sometimes a book is just a bummer, and finishing it is too much like work.

This is not that book. I have always had a few OCD-ish tendencies, which made Foust’s memoir appeal to me when I pulled it from its mailer envelope at work. But she’s the real deal, and her writing captures that truth with such twisty-turny clarity (it sounds impossible, but in OCD land, it definitely isn’t) that you zip right through the pages. It’s not about watching a freak show, though there are moments that made me gasp with disbelief. It’s about understanding how a child’s mind can go so awry, how thoughts you know aren’t normal — however loaded that word may be — can take over when your brain’s chemistry isn’t enough to correct them.

There’s no happy ending, but Foust impressed me profoundly. She writes beautifully, the kind of prose that you tear through because it’s so seamless, till that one perfect turn of phrase catches you, nearly breathless. Her ability to recall her past is impressive (my own memories of life as say, a second-grader, are shadowy at best). The way she tells the sometimes-horrific stories of her childhood and adolescence is brutal, but you end up believing the stories are both accurate, and important. Recommended.

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2 Responses to “review from Sarah Handel- NPR Talk of the Nation (AP)”

  1. Lisa Sanchez April 21, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    Nowhere Near Normal makes people feel what it’s like to have OCD and believe it. Beautifully tragic, darkly comical, the prose is simultaneously effervescent and introspective, complex yet wonderfully entertaining. Think Dave Eggers meets Sylvia Plath with a twist of Elizabeth Wurtzel. But beyond enjoying the stories (and this memoir reads as much like good fiction as, well, good fiction), I found the book informative and compelling. It gave me the courage and strategies needed to deal with my own son who suffers from OCD and is now in treatment. I’d like to think I had a hand in getting him there, and I know I would not have been able to understand him as well had I not read Traci Foust’s book.

  2. Ed Coonce April 21, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    Each paragraph in this incredible biographical narrative has the words and syntax and rhyme and humor that keep us riveted, page after page.We who never really knew what OCD is or was, can see how it becomes so intertwined into Traci’s growing-up life and how she finds slight comforts among the thorns. I cannot help but be moved to tears when I am privy to the conversations with and life with, her grandmother. Her mom, this incredible person, is etched in my mind on a graphic commercial poster from the 80’s. I really, really wonder what Traci would be like today if she had had that chance to marry Scott Baio. There are no wasted words or private Idahos that deter. I love this story and likewise Traci Foust.

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