Book Review: Agorafabulous! by Sara Benincasa
February 15, 2012 13 Comments
First Published: 2012 (February 14th)
I read this in: English, the original language
I got this book: for review from the publishers, William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins)
Number of pages: 255
I love reading memoirs.Not those by famous people, I don’t care one bit, but I do like memoirs by special people, people that overcame some obstacle in their life, or (temporarily) lived a life different from most of us.
In this case, the author suffered from agoraphobia, generally known as a fear of public places.
Agorafabulous!: What it is about
Sara Benincasa tells in an amusing way about her mental illness, agoraphobia. She had been having panic attacks before, but on a high school trip to Italy, she had a panic attack while travelling in a bus and had to be taken to hospital.
Later, as a college student, her illness develops for the worse. Even though she’s been taking medication, she becomes so frightened of leaving the house, that she stays indoors all the time. Even worse, she knows there’s something scary about the bathroom and refuses to visit it. When her friend finds her all dirty and with bowls of urine under the bed, she calls Sara’s parents, who take her home.
A new life starts for Sara, living back at her parents’ at first, and later living on her own again. The book describes the jobs she takes while considering how to get a college degree after all, and how eventually she ends up in New York as a stand-up comedian.
Agorafabulous!: What I thought
4 out of 5 stars This was an entertaining story about someone suffering from a mental illness. If that sounds bad, so be it. Sara Benincasa doesn’t hold back and tells things as they are, but in an easy-going, uplifting way.
On the one hand, this was a great way to write the book. The reader learns about agoraphobia without having to deal with heavy, difficult descriptions. On the other hand, he book was a little too light-hearted for me. I wouldn’t have minded learning a bit more about her situation. Especially the chapter where she’s refusing to leave her house seems to take only a small part in the book. But I guess there isn’t all that much to say about a time when you were spending weeks at a time in bed.
What I found very interesting was that she explained that going outside wasn’t just scary for her, but she knew, she had this insight, that she would die if she went outside. So, really, by staying indoors, she was behaving rather sensibly, you could say!
The book describes her life mainly from early to late twenties. I liked her as a person and loved to read how she got over her anxiety (for the most part). I haven’t heard of her outside the book, and so my reading of the book wasn’t at all influenced by what I knew about her already.
I very much enjoyed reading this book, a kind of coming of age story, but then of a twenty-something growing to become a more grown up grown-up. It’s a bit more light-hearted than I would have liked but I loved spending some time with Sara in the book.
Extra: You can win this book during the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop (from Saturday 18th until Wednesday 22nd)!