counter create hit Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying (Among Other Things) - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying (Among Other Things)

Availability: Ready to download

Until the age of ten, Abby Sher was a happy child in a fun-loving, musical family. But when her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby fills the void of her loss with rituals: kissing her father's picture over and over each night, washing her hands, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects that she thinks could harm innocent pedestrians. Then she begins to pray. Until the age of ten, Abby Sher was a happy child in a fun-loving, musical family. But when her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby fills the void of her loss with rituals: kissing her father's picture over and over each night, washing her hands, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects that she thinks could harm innocent pedestrians. Then she begins to pray. At first she repeats the few phrases she remembers from synagogue, but by the time she is in high school, Abby is spending hours locked in her closet, urgently reciting a series of incantations and pleas. If she doesn't, she is sure someone else will die, too. The patterns from which she cannot deviate become her shelter and her obsession. In college Abby is diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and while she accepts this as an explanation for the counting and kissing and collecting, she resists labeling her fiercest obsession, certain that her prayers and her relationship with G-d are not an illness but the cure. She also discovers a new passion: performing comedy. She is never happier than when she dons a wig and makes people laugh. Offstage, however, she remains unable to confront the fears that drive her. She descends into darker compulsions, starving and cutting herself, measuring every calorie and incision. It is only when her earliest, deepest fear is realized that Abby is forced to examine and redefine the terms of her faith and her future. Amen, Amen, Amen is an elegy honoring a mother, father, and beloved aunt who filled a child with music and their own blend of neuroticism. It is an adventure, full of fast cars, unsolved crimes, and close calls. It is part detective story, part love story, about Abby's hunt for answers and someone to guide her to them. It is a young woman's radiant and heartbreaking account of struggling to recognize the bounds and boundlessness of obsession and devotion.


Compare

Until the age of ten, Abby Sher was a happy child in a fun-loving, musical family. But when her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby fills the void of her loss with rituals: kissing her father's picture over and over each night, washing her hands, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects that she thinks could harm innocent pedestrians. Then she begins to pray. Until the age of ten, Abby Sher was a happy child in a fun-loving, musical family. But when her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby fills the void of her loss with rituals: kissing her father's picture over and over each night, washing her hands, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects that she thinks could harm innocent pedestrians. Then she begins to pray. At first she repeats the few phrases she remembers from synagogue, but by the time she is in high school, Abby is spending hours locked in her closet, urgently reciting a series of incantations and pleas. If she doesn't, she is sure someone else will die, too. The patterns from which she cannot deviate become her shelter and her obsession. In college Abby is diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and while she accepts this as an explanation for the counting and kissing and collecting, she resists labeling her fiercest obsession, certain that her prayers and her relationship with G-d are not an illness but the cure. She also discovers a new passion: performing comedy. She is never happier than when she dons a wig and makes people laugh. Offstage, however, she remains unable to confront the fears that drive her. She descends into darker compulsions, starving and cutting herself, measuring every calorie and incision. It is only when her earliest, deepest fear is realized that Abby is forced to examine and redefine the terms of her faith and her future. Amen, Amen, Amen is an elegy honoring a mother, father, and beloved aunt who filled a child with music and their own blend of neuroticism. It is an adventure, full of fast cars, unsolved crimes, and close calls. It is part detective story, part love story, about Abby's hunt for answers and someone to guide her to them. It is a young woman's radiant and heartbreaking account of struggling to recognize the bounds and boundlessness of obsession and devotion.

30 review for Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying (Among Other Things)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    I enjoyed this book. I have dealt with issues associated with OCD, so I could definitely relate to some of the things she experienced. Great memoir!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Hornik

    I really liked this book. I plowed right through it in two sittings, couldn't really put it down. Stayed up too late to finish it, and now have to write a bit before I'll be able to sleep. It's quite good. She vividly evokes that feeling of responsibility you get when you just feel responsible for things that are clearly out of your control. The whole thing reads a bit like a thriller... she is so often just barely on the edge of control, and you read headlong with this sick feeling of fear for w I really liked this book. I plowed right through it in two sittings, couldn't really put it down. Stayed up too late to finish it, and now have to write a bit before I'll be able to sleep. It's quite good. She vividly evokes that feeling of responsibility you get when you just feel responsible for things that are clearly out of your control. The whole thing reads a bit like a thriller... she is so often just barely on the edge of control, and you read headlong with this sick feeling of fear for what might happen. And it's funny, too. There's this whole second level to my reading it, though, which most people won't have. See, I knew Abby. I know her best from improv circles, and then directing her in a show that briefly merits a mention halfway through the book (the one where she plays the bearded lady.) At the time, I found her talented and extremely interesting, and really was happy that she was in the play. It was much better for her having been in it. I had no idea that she was afflicted with OCD. Reading this now... it's not so much like, "I'm dumb... how could I have missed it." It's more like, here, at this one point in my life, was this person who I barely knew but found really talented and interesting. And now, fifteen years later, I discover this whole massive book all about who she was... where she came from, what she was going through, and who she became. And the funny thing is I think I always wanted to know. I am a nosy bastard by inclination, and since I think this is basically a weakness, I try hard to respect the walls of privacy people put up around themselves. This is like some kind of crazy gift that I can't imagine how it ever got to me. This is a good book even if you didn't ever direct Abby Sher in a show where she plays a bearded lady. But that improves it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Josephine (Jo)

    This book shows us how devastating the effects of OCD can be on a person's life. It started for Abby at a very young age and then grew over the years until it took over her days and made it impossible for her to have a normal childhood and to experience the fun side of university. My heart went out to Abby, the beautiful little girl with elfin face who adored her daddy who was taken from her so early. Abby had a close relationship with her mother who was always there to listen to her lists of wo This book shows us how devastating the effects of OCD can be on a person's life. It started for Abby at a very young age and then grew over the years until it took over her days and made it impossible for her to have a normal childhood and to experience the fun side of university. My heart went out to Abby, the beautiful little girl with elfin face who adored her daddy who was taken from her so early. Abby had a close relationship with her mother who was always there to listen to her lists of worries and fears of what she may have done during the day. Abby had a strong Jewish faith which in some ways added to her inhibitions but in others was a great support. I can understand how she clung to her religion, I would certainly hold on to my Catholic faith if I was as frightened as she was, G-d (I write it this way out of respect for Abby's faith, I learnt from this book why Jews don't write His name in full) was a constant in her life and talking to Him was at least a small release, a way of getting things off her overburdened conscience. Telling Him her imagined faults at least have her a small respite from self blame. Of course when this became a ritual which she had to do for hours each day then it added to her troubles. When Abby started to include the tight regulation of food in her daily regime her life was totally taken over by the cruel illness and her love for her mother did become a bit suffocating. I was routing for Abby to get well and find happiness in her life and I realised that I also have my little rituals and needs to pray for certain things. We are all potentially at risk of being tipped over the edge by some traumatic event in our lives.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    I somewhat liked reading this book because I have OCD, and this book made me feel like a neurotypical. I would hate to have the obsessions and compulsions of the author. I felt more and more thankful for my brain as I read this book and more and more fearful/sad/sympathetic about the author's brain. I've never heard of anyone with such horrible obsessions and compulsions. I feel bad that she kills everyone she sees, has to pray all day, has a completely undifferentiated relationship with her moth I somewhat liked reading this book because I have OCD, and this book made me feel like a neurotypical. I would hate to have the obsessions and compulsions of the author. I felt more and more thankful for my brain as I read this book and more and more fearful/sad/sympathetic about the author's brain. I've never heard of anyone with such horrible obsessions and compulsions. I feel bad that she kills everyone she sees, has to pray all day, has a completely undifferentiated relationship with her mother, and tries to emulate or copy the personalities of those of whom she is fond. I would have thought she also has schizo-affective disorder too, based on some of her hallucinations, but I'm not a psychiatrist, and I've never played one on TV. By the last 40 pages of the book, I was asking myself, "Does this ever end? Does she ever get better?She writes at the end that she felt the closest to normal when she got pregnant. That poor baby has got quite a genetic load to overcome; I hope she turns out O.K. As my adopted daughter said to me when she was in high school, "This was a great family to grow up in, but I'm sure glad I'm not genetically related to any of you." She also said, "Dad, if you get Alzheimer's, how are we going to know?" My daughter, folks. Sher's an excellent writer with an admirable vocabulary. The only mistake I found was that she used the word nauseous (causing nausea) when she meant nauseated (experiencing nausea). If you can get through this book without screaming or running around with a bag over your head claiming you are Jesus, you'll do well.

  5. 4 out of 5

    nicole

    My brother has OCD and I don't understand it. I mean, I understand it the way someone who was a psychology minor in undergrad understands it, but to see someone you love so much suffering so greatly makes it harder to find any comfort in that clinical understanding. I want so badly to know the right thing to say, to have the answers for him, or at least for myself. My brother's ability to describe the nuances of his own struggle are brave and incredible, but I still feel like at such a loss. So My brother has OCD and I don't understand it. I mean, I understand it the way someone who was a psychology minor in undergrad understands it, but to see someone you love so much suffering so greatly makes it harder to find any comfort in that clinical understanding. I want so badly to know the right thing to say, to have the answers for him, or at least for myself. My brother's ability to describe the nuances of his own struggle are brave and incredible, but I still feel like at such a loss. So I sought comfort in my own compulsive reading. Spending time with Shear's story was both helpful and hurtful, seeing things that mirror his life and things that don't. They both developed these behaviors after an unexpected loss, although there were signs before that. They are both incredibly creative individuals who want so badly to protect others. There are things they cannot say, cannot do, because of the way they believe the world works. But her path led her to physical self-abuse, where my brother is in a constant battle with his mind. She chose cognitive behavioral therapy and he has not. I appreciated the candor with which she told her story, even when it wasn't easy. I felt frustration with her at times, but mostly because I recognized the situation in which she was in, or put others in, and that opened the gate for feelings I have about my own family situation to present themselves. This was a read that I needed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Erin Shea Smith

    LOVED this book. Gracefully written, heartfelt, lovely. It did feel a bit rushed at the end, and I think I (maybe unfairly) expected as much detail at the latter half as I did the first. There were some major developments that felt rushed, hurried. Significant, though, is that she doesn't attempt to make this very complex disease simple or easily digestible for the reader. It's raw and poignant and worth the read. LOVED this book. Gracefully written, heartfelt, lovely. It did feel a bit rushed at the end, and I think I (maybe unfairly) expected as much detail at the latter half as I did the first. There were some major developments that felt rushed, hurried. Significant, though, is that she doesn't attempt to make this very complex disease simple or easily digestible for the reader. It's raw and poignant and worth the read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan (aka Just My Op)

    3 1/2 stars. I am a literary voyeur, I love to look at others' lives, so I thought this “memoir of a girl who couldn't stop praying (among other things)” would be right up my alley. In some ways it was, in others – not so much. Abby has had much too much loss in her life, beginning when she was most vulnerable, as a child. Her OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) began manifesting itself before the losses but was greatly exacerbated when someone close to her died. She began to feel she was respons 3 1/2 stars. I am a literary voyeur, I love to look at others' lives, so I thought this “memoir of a girl who couldn't stop praying (among other things)” would be right up my alley. In some ways it was, in others – not so much. Abby has had much too much loss in her life, beginning when she was most vulnerable, as a child. Her OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) began manifesting itself before the losses but was greatly exacerbated when someone close to her died. She began to feel she was responsible for countless deaths and she had to find ways to ward off the deaths she was causing. Lots of rituals, hours of compulsive prayer, and ridding the world of anything dangerous. That last part meant picking up trash, stray paperclips that could puncture a tire causing a blowout and death for an entire family, pieces of glass, sharp metal, even leaves with sharp, pointy stems. If she let down her guard or didn't pray enough or if she let down G-d (she couldn't write “God” for reasons she explained), catastrophe was sure to follow. Her religion seemed more of a superstition than faith. I know that repetition is a huge part of OCD, but the reader shouldn't have to suffer the same fate. A good part of the first half of the book involved countless recollections of imaginary deaths and molestations she caused. Abby even quit a job working with children because she convinced herself she was molesting them. She would circle a block numerous times, looking for the person she thought she mowed down on the previous lap. Very sad, but the repetition got old. The second half of the book was more interesting, but also frustrating to me in some ways. Memoirs are supposed to be about the person writing the book, all fair and good. But Abby was so involved with her illness that she seemed to have very little insight into the people around her. I didn't find the empathy I expected. That doesn't mean that Abby doesn't feel it, but it didn't come across in the book. In my opinion, the book has some flaws, but I did find it interesting. Abby has worked hardto overcome her OCD and I wish her the very best. Through the Goodreads First Reads program, she provided a copy of this book to me and I thank her.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Abby Sher was a happy child from a musical family until about the age of ten. When her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby deals with her grief and the loss by performing various rituals. For example, kissing her fathers picture over and over again at night. Suddenly something so seemingly harmless grows into a series of elaborate rituals such as: repetitive praying, washing her hands over and over, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects from the pavement. Before long her prayer r Abby Sher was a happy child from a musical family until about the age of ten. When her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby deals with her grief and the loss by performing various rituals. For example, kissing her fathers picture over and over again at night. Suddenly something so seemingly harmless grows into a series of elaborate rituals such as: repetitive praying, washing her hands over and over, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects from the pavement. Before long her prayer ritual alone grows into her spending hours reciting prayers and pleas, for she firmly believed that if she stopped other people would surely die too. It is not until college, feeling out of control, suffering from anorexia and self-mutilation issues as well that Abby is finally diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. My Thoughts - A touching, haunting memoir about a young woman's struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I was surprised that the story was even funny in parts, and it did not leave me feeling depressed. If you enjoy memoirs, and aren't afraid to examine a few of your own harmless quirks as you read about Abby, then this book is RECOMMENDED.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cassidy

    It's easy to write reviews about mediocre books, good books, decent books, nice books, pretty books, okay books, bad books, and horrible books. But it's very difficult to write a review about a brilliant book. 'Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying' is a brilliant book. I don't know how to write this review. The only way I can think of to describe the brilliance found in this memoir is to say I can't describe the brilliance found in this memoir. Instead of typing up 100 hund It's easy to write reviews about mediocre books, good books, decent books, nice books, pretty books, okay books, bad books, and horrible books. But it's very difficult to write a review about a brilliant book. 'Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying' is a brilliant book. I don't know how to write this review. The only way I can think of to describe the brilliance found in this memoir is to say I can't describe the brilliance found in this memoir. Instead of typing up 100 hundred pages trying and undoubtedly failing to describe the brilliance of 'Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying', I will only type two words. Read it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Edessa Grace Uy

    Picked up this book immediately after reading Prozac Nation and I'm glad I did. What a great read! Honest and refreshing, this gave a clear view of how people with OCD go through life on a daily basis. Unlike most memoirs recounting a life of mental illness, Sher did it in a light and humurous way. Amen, Amen, Amen is very deep and personal but is insightful, inspiring, beautifully written. It doesn't overwhelm, it does not alienate "outsiders"; it doesn't pull you in a hole of darkness. Simply Picked up this book immediately after reading Prozac Nation and I'm glad I did. What a great read! Honest and refreshing, this gave a clear view of how people with OCD go through life on a daily basis. Unlike most memoirs recounting a life of mental illness, Sher did it in a light and humurous way. Amen, Amen, Amen is very deep and personal but is insightful, inspiring, beautifully written. It doesn't overwhelm, it does not alienate "outsiders"; it doesn't pull you in a hole of darkness. Simply put, this is a tale about a girl who used praying as a weapon to face her different battles in life, and coming out the winner.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Louise Duncombe

    Fantastic writing, compelling story, absolutely the best description of OCD I have ever read. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. CAUTION: book contains multiple triggers for people who self harm! The book glorifies self harm and paints the tendency to self harm as an ego maniacal form of attention seeking. Anyone who has REAL self harm troubles or is in recovery... this book may not be for you. I hesitate to write a review because I don't want to criticize, especially someone who has faced mental and emotional challenges. I guess, on a positive note, I can say that the book was an interesting account of someone with multi CAUTION: book contains multiple triggers for people who self harm! The book glorifies self harm and paints the tendency to self harm as an ego maniacal form of attention seeking. Anyone who has REAL self harm troubles or is in recovery... this book may not be for you. I hesitate to write a review because I don't want to criticize, especially someone who has faced mental and emotional challenges. I guess, on a positive note, I can say that the book was an interesting account of someone with multiple mental health issues- namely OCD, anorexia, and self harm. What I loved about the book - Abby Sher's Mom. I loved her Mom and Dad both, but especially her Mom. I mean, I loved, loved, loved her Mom. She was dignified, poised, caring, kind, and smart. What a great character. She stuck with Abby through thick and thin. Her stoicism and courage reminded me of my own mother, in ways. What I did not like about the book... the purple prose! Oh my goodness... it could not get much worse. Every single noun had multiple adjectives, the adjectives all had adverbs, ALL verbs were activated, every word or phrase was adorned in multiple spasms of overindulgent, navel-gazing verbiage. It was distracting. Not everything in life needs to be told in detail. If you are admitted to a hospital, for instance, no one needs to know your sock and underwear choice, or how the socks felt as you languidly slipped them on and padded, listlessly, distractedly down the airy, mint green hallway... etc etc. Just.... no. No. No. No. I found the reflections melodramatic and horribly self absorbed. EVERYTHING was about the author. Everything. It was very disturbing to read, actually. The author seemed unable to realize that other people were living and being- absolutely independent of her. Okay, last complaint... why did the author have to detail her mother's death bed scene? Her mother was a dignified woman. Does it mean anything to anyone that her mother's ability to speak was impaired? Did the author have to paint a verbal picture of her Mom in that state? Why? The book was not deeper or more meaningful because of those details. Why rob her Mom of her dignity when she had been such a dignified woman? That really upset me. Where is the loyalty? Final take away- Abby gets help through yoga. Well, good for that. It was nice to read that yoga helped her. I give this book three stars just because I liked the Mom so much. If I judged based on the main character, I would give one star.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Wow. This memoir was an emotional ride. It was inherently sad and poignant, and very compelling. Abby Sher tells of her life and her spiral into OCD and eventually anorexia. The love she has for her family and close friends is deep, and her failed relationships engulf the reader in her sadness. I listened to this as an audiobook. I was about 97% done with it when I hit a point where tears came to my eyes. Yes, the book is sad. But not in a despair sense. There was a deep melancholy to it. But it Wow. This memoir was an emotional ride. It was inherently sad and poignant, and very compelling. Abby Sher tells of her life and her spiral into OCD and eventually anorexia. The love she has for her family and close friends is deep, and her failed relationships engulf the reader in her sadness. I listened to this as an audiobook. I was about 97% done with it when I hit a point where tears came to my eyes. Yes, the book is sad. But not in a despair sense. There was a deep melancholy to it. But it was always compelling. Excellently written.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Meagan Houle

    Raw, heartbreaking and somehow funny, all at the same time. Abby's talents are on glorious display, and she writes about mental illness with a clarity I've seen in very few other places. So, if you're okay reading about heavy topics like purity culture, mental illness, abusive parental dynamics and eating disorders, there's a lot to love here. Raw, heartbreaking and somehow funny, all at the same time. Abby's talents are on glorious display, and she writes about mental illness with a clarity I've seen in very few other places. So, if you're okay reading about heavy topics like purity culture, mental illness, abusive parental dynamics and eating disorders, there's a lot to love here.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Grace S.

    I'm not sure I've had a weirder book-reviewing experience than trying to review something that's essentially someone frankly revealing a painful life journey. I'm attempting not to sound critical of Sher herself, and keep things to the writing/book. Hopefully I do okay. At some point during the reading of Amen, Amen, Amen, I realized that it was sort of a frankenbook--started out one thing, turned into another. We begin in a very simplified, childish prose (purposely so, I'm not trying to insult I'm not sure I've had a weirder book-reviewing experience than trying to review something that's essentially someone frankly revealing a painful life journey. I'm attempting not to sound critical of Sher herself, and keep things to the writing/book. Hopefully I do okay. At some point during the reading of Amen, Amen, Amen, I realized that it was sort of a frankenbook--started out one thing, turned into another. We begin in a very simplified, childish prose (purposely so, I'm not trying to insult). Sher's narrative voice describes her life, including the OCD, in a way completely free of clinical analysis or medical information. This allows the reader to focus not on Abby's OCD, but on her life with OCD. Important distinction, and I felt it was a good choice. It made things much more emotionally compelling, occasionally terribly difficult for me to read. The compulsive behaviors are the things you've seen in pop-culture OCD for a long time--hand-washing, touching or picking things up, and such. Where the description of Abby's childhood with OCD gets a touch too real for comfort is in her descriptions of the obsessive thoughts influencing her behavior. The idea that she is responsible for the deaths and pain of loved ones, the devotion to mother, father, and God in the place of romance or pursuing her own desires, the ghastly visions of blood and destruction. When narrated simply, frankly, and free of analysis, it really all paints a haunting picture, especially when it's been specifically tailored to sound like a child is narrating. But then somewhere around college things changed. As the prose gradually became more world-wise and grown up, and as Abby begins living life on her own terms (rather than under her mother's roof, that is), it becomes a memoir that's really not so much about OCD anymore. Compulsive exercising and eating disorders seem to go hand-in-hand with OCD to me. Compulsive behavior: diet and/or exercise. In order to avoid obsessive consequence: bad body image, unfavorable career prospects, etc. But as the OCD-centric first half of the book faded away we encounter (view spoiler)[a love life, children rallying around a dying mother, an abortion, self-mutilation, (hide spoiler)] and other such adult hardships that make this more of a typical dysfunctional adulthood memoir. Most interesting (I'll admit, frustrating/confusing) to me is the number of times that Sher starts talking about lacking the energy/motivation to continue her praying or obsessive behaviors. Suddenly this focal point of the book, the defining characteristic of Sher's life selected to stand for her in the title of the work, gets a few throwaway sentences every once in a while and little else. I was also a little concerned with elements of the ending, mainly the implication that (view spoiler)[getting pregnant and having a baby constituted some amazing emotional turnaround. (hide spoiler)] I don't mind the overall tone of the ending: no happily-ever-after, no real ending at all, because I'm still fighting and sometimes it's hard but generally it's better. That part's quite realistic and satisfying, and I would much rather than than tying things up with a bow and implying everything's AOK now. But still...that's sort of what she implies about (view spoiler)[the baby. I have a baby girl. In certain regards she has made me reevaluate who I am as a person, try to be better, and brings smiles and new wonders to my life. BUT it's not all lollipops and rainbows either, and I sort of felt like Sher was saying that having her daughter was a purely positive experience. I also spend significant amounts of time worrying about what I might have passed on to her (from anxiety to nearsightedness to bad knees, but mostly the anxiety.) I also have days where the demanding and radically different life path of having a baby (see: gotta be selfless even when you don't feel like it) really dragged me down. (hide spoiler)] That was the ONE PART of the book where I thought she was keeping secrets, holding something back to make her situation sound a little more storybooky. Because I've got to believe that EVERYBODY experiences that good/bad easy/hard amalgam, and omitting the negative parts when the rest of the novel was so candid about Sher's pain, that left a saccharine and unrealistic final note. On the whole, though, one of the better nonfiction pieces I've read in recent memory. The first half was more interesting and resonant for me than the second, and I can pretty much guarantee that Amen, Amen, Amen will take you SOMEWHERE you weren't expecting to go based on the title/jacket. Some of those "other things" in the title aren't what you'd think.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lacey Louwagie

    Read Harder Reading Challenge Item: Read a book in which the main character has a mental illness This book was incredibly well-written and at times very hard to read. It begins with what the author seems to see as the "triggering" event for her lifelong struggle with OCD, which was the death of her favorite aunt, followed closely by the death of her father. At age 11, she is not fully able to process his loss, and because of that, she never cries and assumes this must mean that she wanted him to d Read Harder Reading Challenge Item: Read a book in which the main character has a mental illness This book was incredibly well-written and at times very hard to read. It begins with what the author seems to see as the "triggering" event for her lifelong struggle with OCD, which was the death of her favorite aunt, followed closely by the death of her father. At age 11, she is not fully able to process his loss, and because of that, she never cries and assumes this must mean that she wanted him to die or that his death was somehow her fault. From there, she develops elaborate rituals, mostly related to praying, that she hopes will both "make up for" the part she feels she played in his death, and protect her other loved ones against a similar fate. Although Abby is Jewish, her ritualistic prayer was incredibly familiar to this Catholic girl, who has been known to resort to obsessively praying the rosary in my own times of greatest doubt and fear. Despite her compulsory piety, her relationship with God never seems to evolve past the "bartering" stage, wherein she believes that if she does everything a certain way, God will reward her with safety for her loved ones. She suffers an inordinate amount of guilt for normal developmental milestones, such as her first crushes or her need to differentiate from her parents. And although she does seem to get something out of her piety, it made me sad that she didn't seem able to attain a higher level of spirituality, although there were hints of that near the end. This book's strongest section is probably when Abby is first giving in to her OCD, before she understands that it is an illness and when she fully believes her delusions about the level of control she has over events and the horrible things that she has done. The way this is written really traps the reader in that mindset, making her feel as suffocated as Abby must have. It's heartbreaking to see an adolescent girl bearing the weight of her entire world on her shoulders, and this memoir seems to be an examination of how completely a child's psyche can spin out of control when she is confronted with trauma beyond her ability to understand or absorb. Although Abby probably would have developed OCD in some form regardless, I do wonder how her path would have been different had she not lost her father at such a young age. There are places around the middle to end where the story begins to bow a little under its own weight, as Abby adds self-harm and anorexia to her list of mental ailments. It ca n be frustrating to watch the way she lets her life spin out of control and the way she pushes away the man who loves her. I was a little uncomfortable with the implication in the end that (view spoiler)[being pregnant would someone count as some sort of be-all/end-all cure to Abby's OCD and that it brought all this meaning to her life that was absent before. It felt a bit reductionist, like that whole idea that a woman is not fully a woman until she gives birth; also, I don't think it's wise to ever consider having a baby to be a cure for any problem except that of wanting a baby -- it felt like a cop-out not to extend the book out to how Abby adjusted to the trials of motherhood, which can threaten even the healthiest of psyches. (hide spoiler)] All in all, though, this is a moving portrait of one woman's lifetime living within the shadow of mental illness, and can surely bring both a deeper understanding to those who are mentally healthy, and a sense of companionship to those who walk the road of life with mental illness hovering over their shoulders.

  17. 5 out of 5

    HeavyReader

    This book was a lot harder to read than I had anticipated. As a child, both the author’s beloved aunt, and father died suddenly. Soon after, she began to struggle with OCD. As a young adult, she developed an eating disorder and later began cutting herself. This book chronicles her hours of daily prayer, her compulsive gathering of trash, her magical thinking of responsibility for the deaths of strangers, and other manifestations of her mental illness. I’m not sure why I thought this would be a mo This book was a lot harder to read than I had anticipated. As a child, both the author’s beloved aunt, and father died suddenly. Soon after, she began to struggle with OCD. As a young adult, she developed an eating disorder and later began cutting herself. This book chronicles her hours of daily prayer, her compulsive gathering of trash, her magical thinking of responsibility for the deaths of strangers, and other manifestations of her mental illness. I’m not sure why I thought this would be a more lighthearted account of her life, something more along the lines of “I’m all better now, but look at some of the silly things I did as a kid.” Uh,no. This book was her long account of all the things she couldn’t help doing that made her life so difficult. And yet, the author was a successful comic and writer, who did eventually heal and who (according to her author bio) seems to be enjoying a normal (whatever that means) life. A few aspects of this book hit really close to home. #1 At one point, the author describes how she had to make sure all appliances were “off, off, off” in order to assure herself the house would not burn down while she was away. My mom used to do the same thing! I can remember her starting in the back of our mobile home with her litany of “the hairdryer’s unplugged, the dryer is door is open, the washer is off.” When she moved to the kitchen, she would stand in front of the stove and say repeatedly while pointing to each knob, “the stove is off, off, off, off, off.” Of course, as a kid, I thought this was a normal thing that all moms did before going to the grocery store. When Abby Sher shared this bit of her life, it was a creepy little blast from my past too. #2 As a young adult, Sher developed an eating disorder. She thought she needed to be increasingly skinny to compete with the other female comics at the Second City club in Chicago where she was a writer and performer. She exercised compulsively for hours a day, fueling her body with only a granola bar or a banana. At night she would eat her one meal of the day, fat free broth with fiber cereal. My own fucked-upness was obvious to me when, instead of feeling sorry for a poor sick girl who was slowly killing herself, I responded by wishing I could be that motivated and disciplined. Fuck, I want to be skinny too, but I’m just too lazy to go to such extremes. (Yes, I know, I’m the sick one here.) #3 Sher met a wonderful, kind, generous man who loves her unconditionally, cherishes her,sticks by her, even when she was pretty awful to him. (I recently read Here’s the Story by Maureen McCormick, and the same thing happened to her.) Where do women find these guys? Unconditional love? What’s that? When is that going to happen to me? I am totally glad that Sher met a great guy who loves her and committed to her and treats her well, but I have to say, I’m envious too. I mean, this gal was a hot mess, and still she got herself a fantastic guy. How does that work? Thankfully, the book has a happy ending: (view spoiler)[Sher gets pregnant and learns to love herself and her body so she can nourish her fetus. (hide spoiler)] I truly hope she is doing well today and keeps on doing well for the rest of her life.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alex Templeton

    If you've been paying attention to my list of books, you'll probably notice I've been into memoirs lately. I just seem to be finding the stories people tell about their own lives and struggles as compelling as a good novel (when well done). Abby Sher's memoir is about her life as an obsessive-compulsive who lost hours of her life to the need to pray and take responsibility for the calamities of the world. It was a really poignant story of someone who desperately wanted to take control of the wor If you've been paying attention to my list of books, you'll probably notice I've been into memoirs lately. I just seem to be finding the stories people tell about their own lives and struggles as compelling as a good novel (when well done). Abby Sher's memoir is about her life as an obsessive-compulsive who lost hours of her life to the need to pray and take responsibility for the calamities of the world. It was a really poignant story of someone who desperately wanted to take control of the world and explain inexplicable events after losing her beloved aunt and father at the age of ten and eleven. Sher's writing is often beautiful and well-crafted, especially while she is recalling childhood memories--ironically (if that is the right word to use here) she has done an excellent job, as an adult, of creating order out of the chaotic events of her early life. I appreciate how the memoir doesn't end with everything being solved--Sher is a recovering anorexic who still experiences OCD tendencies, but who seems to be experiencing happiness with her husband and excited for her unborn baby. Still, the ending of the book seemed rushed--an attempt to wrap up and create a unified structure for events that it's probably too early for Sher to understand. I definitely got the sense that she's still got some things to work through, and I wish her luck. I'd definitely be interested in a "sequel".

  19. 4 out of 5

    Miki Garrison

    I love reading memoirs, but there's usually something that makes them a bit of a struggle for me -- maybe it's just that uncommon for the people with the most interesting lives are also the best writers, maybe it's how rarely people have enough distance and perspective to know what about their interior and exterior lives is going to be intriguing to others. And maybe it's that weaving together all the different plot threads of a life -- family, relationships, career, mental illness, health -- in I love reading memoirs, but there's usually something that makes them a bit of a struggle for me -- maybe it's just that uncommon for the people with the most interesting lives are also the best writers, maybe it's how rarely people have enough distance and perspective to know what about their interior and exterior lives is going to be intriguing to others. And maybe it's that weaving together all the different plot threads of a life -- family, relationships, career, mental illness, health -- into a story that flows is difficult enough in pure fiction, but overwhelmingly challenging when you're dealing with a real life. For me, this book overcomes all of these barriers. While the subtitle and cover copy present the book as a memoir about life with OCD, this book goes far beyond that. It's also about growing up Jewish in upstate New York, about dealing with deaths in the family, about figuring where the lines are that separate you from the people you love, and about finding the people in your life who you can trust to hold on while you take hard steps. And in all of this, the people are much more real and vivid and complex than they are in most books. It's easy enough to think, "Well, of course they're real, it's because they're real people, not fiction!" But that solidity and complexity comes through so much more clearly here than it does in most memoirs. Plus, it has a Hebrew prayer praising G-d for the blessings of Diet Coke. :D

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lou

    A glimpse into the thoughts of someone riddled with OCD. I had the audio, but found the author's voice grating. I sensed this would be a good book without the distraction of the reader, though, so I picked up a hard copy which made a world of difference. The story and the glimpse into Sher's mind is fascinating and compelling in the same way that rubber-necking at a car wreck is compelling. Part freak show, part "thank God no one in my family suffers from mental illness!" Sher's story gives this A glimpse into the thoughts of someone riddled with OCD. I had the audio, but found the author's voice grating. I sensed this would be a good book without the distraction of the reader, though, so I picked up a hard copy which made a world of difference. The story and the glimpse into Sher's mind is fascinating and compelling in the same way that rubber-necking at a car wreck is compelling. Part freak show, part "thank God no one in my family suffers from mental illness!" Sher's story gives this reader a new-found compassion for those with mental illness, as it simultaneously creates a new level of fear of and for those who suffer. As for the writing, the story dragged in the beginning - too much detail - while the end was rushed. There was a lot in the book that I found tedious, but I understand that it was a minuscule manifestation of what Sher and her family were also dealing with, so I plowed through it. I don't think I could ever read this book a second time, though - it would be too exhausting. As it's not a novel, we can't expect a "happily ever after" ending, but it does seem as though Sher, while still struggling, learned to manage her illness so that she can function from day to day and find pleasure in her life. No spoilers, but I would have liked to see Sher revisit the events of the "October" chapter at the end of the book when she sees that "Flicker". This seemed like a huge omission to me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    After experiencing two close losses in her family at an early age, Sher develops severe OCD (or her latent OCD-ness was severely exacerbated - she had some tendencies before everything happened). She can't stop praying, picking up trash that could potentially harm someone else (paper clips, pieces of glass, leaves), kissing her father's picture, or washing her hands to name a few. She also feels like her rituals are keeping her family safe while at the same time believing that she's causing acci After experiencing two close losses in her family at an early age, Sher develops severe OCD (or her latent OCD-ness was severely exacerbated - she had some tendencies before everything happened). She can't stop praying, picking up trash that could potentially harm someone else (paper clips, pieces of glass, leaves), kissing her father's picture, or washing her hands to name a few. She also feels like her rituals are keeping her family safe while at the same time believing that she's causing accidents all over town. It was interesting at first but was just so, so, so, so, so repetitive. I wish she had focused more outside of herself and how her illness and recovery impacted those around her. Towards the end, I was so fed up with her and her unwillingness to deal with her issues that it was hard to stay engaged. I listened to the audiobook and while I like that Sher narrated it, I felt like she used her little girl voice for way too long. It was distracting. Also, in Googling Sher I found an interview she did on the Tyra Banks show. I didn't watch it all, so I'm not sure if it was pre- or post-book since it was about her OCD, but I found it strange. Most authors use writing as their medium to express/share their feeling vs. a mediocre daytime talk show.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ami

    The book was totally engrossing, and the writer talented. I can't tell you how comforting and fascinating it is to read about someone *else's* obsessive fears & compulsive behaviors & relationships to stave those fears off, to try to keep them at bay. OCD isn't about liking things clean or organized; it's about trying to control things you can as a way to compensate for things you can't, even (and especially) when it gets in the way of the rest your life, just for a little more room to put air i The book was totally engrossing, and the writer talented. I can't tell you how comforting and fascinating it is to read about someone *else's* obsessive fears & compulsive behaviors & relationships to stave those fears off, to try to keep them at bay. OCD isn't about liking things clean or organized; it's about trying to control things you can as a way to compensate for things you can't, even (and especially) when it gets in the way of the rest your life, just for a little more room to put air in your lungs where the anxiety has created a vacuum. Sher is really, really talented at quite poetically putting that into words, into stories. A sad & emotional book to read, definitely coming with a trigger warning for folks with disordered eating/eating disorders and/or self-harm issues, but powerful and really well-written. I loved the way she wrote about her father in the beginning, the way her voice almost sounded like the 10-year-old child she was at the time the story took place, how very much she loved him. I felt myself missing her father throughout the whole book. A lot of times I couldn't put it down.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vera

    Ever since she was little, Abby Sher had the tendency of doing things in certain order, or for a certain amount of times, or collecting specific pieces of garbage. Abby also had the tendency to pray non-stop. "Amen, Amen, Amen" is Abby Sher's account of growing up with obsessive-compulsive disorder. At first, Abby finds comfort in her daily rituals, but soon realizes that there's nothing normal about her behavior. Nevertheless, Abby faces daily challenges and life traumas by adopting more and mo Ever since she was little, Abby Sher had the tendency of doing things in certain order, or for a certain amount of times, or collecting specific pieces of garbage. Abby also had the tendency to pray non-stop. "Amen, Amen, Amen" is Abby Sher's account of growing up with obsessive-compulsive disorder. At first, Abby finds comfort in her daily rituals, but soon realizes that there's nothing normal about her behavior. Nevertheless, Abby faces daily challenges and life traumas by adopting more and more compulsive habits. Her faith, in particular, becomes all consuming and Abby feels responsible for saving everyone and everything. The end result becomes an adulthood full of doubt and self-punishment. Abby Sher is a masterful writer and even as I experienced disbelief that anyone could be so trapped within themselves, I could not stop reading. She describes her experiences in a way that soon made me feel as I was walking in her shoes and dealing with the troubling compulsions that ruled her life. "Amen, Amen, Amen" is a memoir anyone will relate to and one that most people will learn a great deal from.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Note: I read an advanced copy, although the book has been released. What I like about this book is that Sher delves into her OCD in ways that are rarely depicted in literature or other media, except as oddities. I didn't know what the memoir was about until I started it, and I will say that, although I don't watch them too often, I love reality tv shows that show people in their addictions--whether they be to illegal substances, to rituals, to food (or not)--and then their treatment. Intervention, Note: I read an advanced copy, although the book has been released. What I like about this book is that Sher delves into her OCD in ways that are rarely depicted in literature or other media, except as oddities. I didn't know what the memoir was about until I started it, and I will say that, although I don't watch them too often, I love reality tv shows that show people in their addictions--whether they be to illegal substances, to rituals, to food (or not)--and then their treatment. Intervention, The OCD Project, and other shows are fascinating, yet also slightly alienating: whatever the people on the shows go through is to the extreme; "normal" people would never do any of those things. Sher, however, portrays herself as a "normal" person who does do those things. I appreciated seeing how little patterns of behavior or inside jokes turned into her rituals. I'm probably not doing the memoir justice, but I'm grateful to Sher for having the courage to write about herself as frankly and openly as she did.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    Thanks to Good Reads I received this book as a First Reads winner. This memoir was amazing. It was a very personal look at mental illness and how it can deprive someone of simple every day life. Looking at the author's (Abby's) life, from the outside, anyone would be envious at all that she had - devoted loving family, many friends, great job. However, sharing what was going on inside of her, we are able to see that her obsessive compulsive disorder does not allow her to appreciate this to it's Thanks to Good Reads I received this book as a First Reads winner. This memoir was amazing. It was a very personal look at mental illness and how it can deprive someone of simple every day life. Looking at the author's (Abby's) life, from the outside, anyone would be envious at all that she had - devoted loving family, many friends, great job. However, sharing what was going on inside of her, we are able to see that her obsessive compulsive disorder does not allow her to appreciate this to it's fullest. Her time is robbed by time needed to perform daily rituals including hours of praying. When praying and repetitive mantras are not enough to save the world, she begins self-destructive behavior. This memoir takes us through the ever-changing routes the Abby chooses to confront her personal demons. Aside from the topic, this book was quite witty and funny.

  26. 5 out of 5

    John

    I had a tough time with this book on audio, in part I believe because the author read it herself; her little girl voice became more difficult to accept as she grew older. Moreover, the story relies on description to a significant extent, which might be okay in print, but Sher lingers on such details, dragging out this Series of Unpleasant Events until nearly the very end (last half hour or so), as she’s in denial about her serious problems, making several bad choices with negative consequences. I had a tough time with this book on audio, in part I believe because the author read it herself; her little girl voice became more difficult to accept as she grew older. Moreover, the story relies on description to a significant extent, which might be okay in print, but Sher lingers on such details, dragging out this Series of Unpleasant Events until nearly the very end (last half hour or so), as she’s in denial about her serious problems, making several bad choices with negative consequences. The self-centered, needy behavior left me wondering how much of an unreliable narrator she might be? Or, maybe I’m just not her target audience? Bottom line: taking into account her problems, I just didn’t like her very much as a person.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Suzie Q

    pretty good book about an OCD girl who collects trash thinking she is saving the world from major accidents that a paperclip or a shard of glass could cause. She loses her father and stepfather to illness and then thinks she needs to pray extra long and extra diligently to prevent any other future loses or else bad things will happen to friends or family or even strangers. She starts to become obsessed with relationships and exercise and dieting and although she goes to a doctor for some of this pretty good book about an OCD girl who collects trash thinking she is saving the world from major accidents that a paperclip or a shard of glass could cause. She loses her father and stepfather to illness and then thinks she needs to pray extra long and extra diligently to prevent any other future loses or else bad things will happen to friends or family or even strangers. She starts to become obsessed with relationships and exercise and dieting and although she goes to a doctor for some of this no one seems to know how deep her ocd is and no one really seems to push her for more indepth therapy which is odd. Her friends and family just seem to just seem to let it ride until it gets really bad and it takes a toll on her weight and health.

  28. 4 out of 5

    John Wolter

    Abby Sher takes us on an inside view of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as she recounts her journey into a world of rituals (including praying), anorexia, cutting, alcohol abuse, and ultimately progress in recovery. This is a good read, although at times I found myself shaking my head at the decisions she made along the way. I guess that shows that she manages to share enough of herself in the process that I genuinely cared about what she did to herself and to her relationships. The book ends Abby Sher takes us on an inside view of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as she recounts her journey into a world of rituals (including praying), anorexia, cutting, alcohol abuse, and ultimately progress in recovery. This is a good read, although at times I found myself shaking my head at the decisions she made along the way. I guess that shows that she manages to share enough of herself in the process that I genuinely cared about what she did to herself and to her relationships. The book ends unfinished. That is, the author does not attempt to convince us that her recovery is complete. This might frustrate some people, but to me it was highly appropriate as a non-fiction story. Few of our stories are finished until we die. All in all a satisfying read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    This book is a memoir about a woman suffering through OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Often we joke about real psychological illnesses. We'll comment and say, "That's my OCD talking." This young woman copes with the deaths of members in her family through discovering that repetition of prayers will soothe her. The question becomes then, "Does she pray because she has OCD or does she pray out of faith?" It is a question in which she doesn't share with the world (until the book was written) t This book is a memoir about a woman suffering through OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Often we joke about real psychological illnesses. We'll comment and say, "That's my OCD talking." This young woman copes with the deaths of members in her family through discovering that repetition of prayers will soothe her. The question becomes then, "Does she pray because she has OCD or does she pray out of faith?" It is a question in which she doesn't share with the world (until the book was written) this faith that seems to overpower her. She doesn't want it open for criticism. I admire the way she manages to be so open and honest in her writing. So far it has been an interesting read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    3 stars because I seem to give everything I like 4 stars. This book is raw and haunting and not in the least bit funny -- I expected it to be somewhat less sad and somewhat more funny, perhaps because I read Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood. That said, I recommend it! But not to everyone. Not for the emotionally squeamish! Probably not for boys (except under unusual circumstances). I feel like I should have more to say about this, but I'm still processing it. 3 stars because I seem to give everything I like 4 stars. This book is raw and haunting and not in the least bit funny -- I expected it to be somewhat less sad and somewhat more funny, perhaps because I read Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood. That said, I recommend it! But not to everyone. Not for the emotionally squeamish! Probably not for boys (except under unusual circumstances). I feel like I should have more to say about this, but I'm still processing it.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.