Book: The Existence of Amy Author: Lana Grace Riva Genre: Contemporary Fiction Pages: 276 (Kindle) Published: August 2019 (UK) My Rating: 5/5 Stars
*Disclaimer: I was given a free e-book copy of 'The Existence of Amy' in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author Lana Grace Riva for this opportunity.
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.
(Synopsis from Goodreads - Link)
I'm going to jump straight in there and say it - I love this book. It's such an honest first-hand experience of mental illness which I'm sure many people will relate to, and demonstrates how it affects both ourselves and others.
Adding to the synopsis above, this book is written from the first-person narrative of Amy who has obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. From the outside, Amy appears to have a relatively "normal" life, with a successful career and many friends. But inside her mind, it's a different story. We follow Amy through her days at work, chatting with friends and colleagues, while her mental illness isn't far behind. We see her best days and her worst. Then, she's invited on a work trip to Australia and life becomes even harder. Will she go on the trip, or will it be too much for her?
I enjoyed the plot and structure of the book as a whole. It jumped straight in and showed the honesty of OCD from the start. Similarly, I liked how the ending wasn't particularly 'final', and demonstrates that mental illness will always be there with us in some way. I really do think that people will see themselves in Amy and strongly relate to her, and her experiences.
The writing too enabled me to instantly connect with Amy, to understand her compulsive thought processes and to see how she reacts with day-to-day situations. I could easily see myself in Amy, as I'm sure many others with mental illness can. The anxiety, the worry, the 'what-if's'. Admittedly, it was a little repetitive (no pun intended!) and difficult to read at first due to the constant 'I must do this/I must do that' feel to it, but that is no fault to the author as the aim is to give a true insight into Amy's mind, which it very successfully does.
The characterisation was wonderful, every character presented something new. Ed is the friend that we all dream of, he's always there for Amy and truly understands the right things to say - I think we all need an Ed in our lives! Nathan adds a little humour into the situation, and certainly has his moments. Whereas, Sally represents the effect mental illness can have on friendships, as she often argues with Amy for avoiding social events and being late.
I rate this book five out of five stars as it's such a truthful, heart-warming book that I adored. I've not read a book in a long time that understands the character and mental illness as Lana Grace Riva does, and writes so perfectly to express this. As a trigger warning, there is mention of OCD and depression symptoms and experiences, a mild suicide mention, and some strong language - but again nothing too extreme.
Thank you again to Lana Grace Riva for giving me this opportunity.
Take care, Sophie x