September 9, 2013

What I'm Reading - Devil in the Details

The novel I'm reading this week was actually a recommendation from my sister, Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood by Jenny Traig (not to be confused with Jenny Craig).

Jenny narrates her expeiences, beginning at age 12, growing up with OCD. Her battles include anorexia and scruplosity, which she desribes as an obsession with religion, especially its rituals. Jenny was raised in the 70s by a Catholic mother and Jewish father, who are initially amused by her compulsions.

This novel actually takes on a humorous tone yet leaves me with some profound insights. As with other mental illnesses, these anxiety disorders often go unnoticed by outsiders, and I find it intriguing to see how hers evolved over time.

During one of her bouts with anorexia, Jenny contemplates the societal pressures for women to achieve this thinness. One of my favorite quotes in this book was when she discusses the irony of her ancestors emigrating to America to escape famine. "They didn't know," she said," that famine would become our national industry. That we would learn to market it, repackage it, new and improved."

Here is the excerpt from Good Reads:

DEVIL IN THE DETAILS announces Jennifer Traig as one of the most hilarious writers to emerge in recent years and one of the strangest! Recalling the agony of growing up obsessive compulsive and a religious fanatic, Traig fearlessly confesses the most peculiar behavior like tirelessly scrubbing her hands for a full half hour before dinner, feeding her stuffed animals before herself, and washing everything she owned because she thought it was contaminated by pork fumes. The result is a book so relentlessly funny and frank, its totally refreshing.

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