I received a copy of The Existence of Amy from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are, of course, my own.
The Existence of Amy
Lana Grace Riva
August 2nd, 2019
Why I Picked It Up
I was contacted by the author and requested to read and review.
Famous First Words
“I register the light before anything else.”
Amy has a normal life. That is if you were to go by a definition of ‘no immediate obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead.
A fictional story that depicts the reality of mental illness behind a perception of normality.
My Thoughts & Takeaways
As someone who has anxiety, depression, ADHD, and PTSD, I know all too well how generalized mental health becomes and how often terms are thrown around. Similarly to ADHD, OCD is thrown around a lot in ways of “Oh my gosh, I’m so OCD right now.”
This can be frustrating for those who actually deal with this on a daily basis and where it actually affects our daily life. While I don’t have OCD, my mother does and it can definitely be frustrating as well as manifest in different ways for different people.
What I really liked about this book is that you don’t see OCD very often in books. And, when most people think of OCD, they think of it in the ways that have been highlighted the most such as having to do things a set number of times.
The book is fictional but felt so very personal, I would have believed this was a true story. The challenges Amy faces on a daily basis that so many of us take for granted.
And, she hid it well. Whether Riva meant it this way or not, I feel this was a nod to all the people suffering from mental health issues that aren’t visible so no one thinks anything is wrong with them.
Eventually, though, it all becomes too much for Amy and affects her day to day life more and more.
This is a short book that packs a huge punch. Told from Amy’s point of view, you really get a feel for what goes through her head and how downright exhausting it is. She also refers to OCD and her Depression as “it” for almost the entire book so if you hadn’t read the description or knew anything about these disorders, you may not even know what she had. Also, it gave these disorders a kind of identity.
She would say things like “the last time it came…” referring to a depressive episode. As someone who knows this feeling well, I really felt this.
I do wonder if you have to have struggled with mental health, either yourself or through a very closed loved one, to truly love this book. That’s very possible, but I still think anyone should read to realize how easy it is to mask something that is truly exhausting and painful every minute of the day.
“I raise myself up and sit on the side of the bed for some time. I don’t know why I do this. All it really does is prolong things, but it feels like I need this step. I need to stay in contact with my bed for these last few minutes of vague comfort before it all starts.”
“Departing necessitats alerting the driver to the fact that they need to stop the bus. This alert comes in the form of a bell press.
‘Please someone else press the bell’, ‘please someone else press the bell’ is charmingly chanting over and over. Inside voice chanting at least – I am not the crazy lady on the bus that people avoid sitting next to. I am the crazy lady on the bus who hides it well (maybe not even well, but better than the first crazy lady).
‘I, on the other hand, am not so lucky in the forgetting. I will go home and ruminate over how I always let down my friends. Ruminate over how I’m missing out on a fun night as I’m no longer allowed to freely participate.”
“I show up when I can.”
“I know the names wel, it’s just hard to say them out loud for some reason. As if voicing them gives them some kind of power. As though it brings them into existence.”