Not the jokey kind of OCD where someone might occasionally double check they’ve locked the door and say ‘I’m so OCD about that door!’. There’s nothing remotely jokey about the kind I have.Lana Grace Riva
Release date: August 2, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary fiction
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.
I had the honor of being sent this book by the author in exchange for a review.
I want to stary this review by talking a little bit more about the plot of this book because the Goodreads synopsis doesn’t really do it justice. The Existence of Amy follows our title character through her everyday life – she rides the bus to and from her office job, talks to her work friends, navigates a life many of us might be totally familiar with. The only difference is that Amy struggles with OCD and depression which makes all of these things a little more complicated. When she is faced with the possibility of leaving the country for a work trip, Amy must decide how to handle this.
Lana Grace Riva gives readers a look at how simple tasks can be a bit more difficult for people who struggle with mental health issues. This character study even shows readers the conversations Amy is having with her own brain and I really appreciated that. I have anxiety and depression and felt that these conversations really captured the frustration I sometimes feel with myself because logically, I know my brain is sabotaging me but I don’t always know how to stop it.
I also appreciated that Riva had the characters in this book talk about the importance of being able to talk about mental health professionals. It is good to open up to friends about your struggles if you can, but they can only do so much. Riva also makes readers aware that there is a certain privilege that allows people to be able to get adequate access to therapy.
Something that didn’t really work for me with this book is that the first half felt a little slow compared to the second half. In showing what mundane tasks are like for Amy, the story itself became a little mundane. The second half really picks up, though, as Amy is forced to have to confront her struggles a little more head-on.
Overall, I think this book offers a view of what life with OCD and depression can be like for some people, and seeing Amy’s character growth was interesting to see. It gave me a lot to think about when it comes to the way I converse with my own mind.