The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva – REVIEW
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 received a complimentary finished copy of this book from the author.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“Everything is blurred out around me, my body and my fear have such heightened focus, there is none left for anything else.”
Normally I turn down unsolicited review requests as they can become overwhelming but I was intrigued by the description of The Existence of Amy and wanted to read more. The author presents a nuanced description of mental illness, especially depression, OCD and anxiety. The book follows Amy during her day-to-day life and presents the many ways her mental illnesses affect how she lives. It’s absolutely exhausting to even imagine being in Amy’s shoes. I have depression and low-level anxiety but the exploration of OCD is new to me and I really felt I understood it better after finishing.
“We all struggle, even the sky, but beauty never leaves us if we’re open to noticing it.”
Amy’s work colleagues were a fantastic way for the author to question how people respond to mental illness. Sally can seem a little callous at times but, since she doesn’t know Amy’s true circumstances, it’s easy to understand how hurt she must be by Amy’s repeated refusals to socialise. The supportive Ed was an interesting character as the colleague Amy is closest to and the one that helped her during her last crisis. Nate, however, was my favourite as he completely surprised me. He goes above and beyond trying to help Amy, which stems from his own experience of depression. He’s actually helpful in ways that make a positive impact and is a role model of how to help someone suffering a crisis.
“I spend my life feeling as though I am precariously placed on an almost invisible line of safety, surrounded by harm in all directions.”
There are some dark moments in the story and some events will be triggering, for example, suicidal thoughts are mentioned. However, the book feels very cathartic and emphasises how small moments of improvement can lead to hope for the future. This is a book I’d highly recommend using to explain life as a sufferer of depression, OCD or anxiety to an outside party as it perfectly captures the whole experience. The Existence of Amy is a thought-provoking and brutally honest exploration of mental illness and a must-read for sufferers and non-sufferers alike.