dreamingbear (dreamingbear) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Book log #10: Devil in the Details (An entry for the MIARC)

Title:Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood
Written by:Jennifer Traig
Narrated by:Melinda Wade
Genre:Nonfiction; Autobiography

The struggles and humiliations of adolescence are told in an unflinching, funny, surprisingly universal tale of one good Jewish girl's battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Adhering to the stringent restrictions of ancient Jewish laws gave author Jennifer Traig's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder something of a purpose: Instead of simply washing her hands, she was purifying herself of sin; rather than zealously patting an item, she was laying on hands. At first amused, later baffled, and finally pragmatic, her parents drew up a contract limiting hand-washing, altar-building, and other rituals, but it was the amendment allowing Traig's sister to divulge the odd behavior to the world at large that put a stop to the compulsions. For a while, anyway.

With all the harrowing candor of Running with Scissors and the irresistible details of A Girl Named Zippy, Traig has created a memoir that captures the struggles of OCD sufferers without a hint of self-pity; at the same time, her descriptions of an extraordinary adolescence are smart, no-holds-barred honest, and exceptionally funny.

Traig is frank, brutally honest, and, at times, hysterically funny. Don't worry, her humor does not belie the seriousness or importance of the illness. She does an excellent job of explaining how debilitating it was for her. She uses the wittiness and humor to keep the story from being too onerous. Additionally, it's not that she's cracking jokes or forcing a situation to be comical - it's more that can see just how crazy her behaviors were/are and can see the humor in the crazy.

The story jumps around quite a bit in her life. In one story she's old enough to drink and then next she's back in Junior High. Then there are the lists and the activities that act as dividers between chapters or sections. The X number of things she held herself personally responsible for, like Apartheid. The things she was afraid of - being kidnapped by bank robbers in gorilla suits and forced to have a traumatic, yet flattering, haircut... There's so much more, but I don't want to give away any real spoilers.

10 / 75 books. 13% done!

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