LIGHTS ON, RATS OUT by Cree LeFavour
Kirkus Star


A Memoir
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A noted cookbook writer tells the story of her young-adulthood battles with mental illness and self-harming behaviors.

Abandoned and neglected by her mother and father when she was just 13, LeFavour (Pork: More than 50 Heavenly Meals that Celebrate the Glory of Pig, Delicious Pig, 2014, etc.) grew up virtually parent-free. Though never wanting for money, she began to experience depression in high school; in the years after college, her symptoms, which included irrational numerical fixations and bulimia, began to worsen. When the author was 24, she started therapy with a Vermont psychiatrist named Dr. Adam Kohl. The more she opened up, the more she discovered that she “wanted all of him—or none.” Taking masochistic pleasure in how “special” her own self-loathing made her feel, LeFavour began inflicting cigarette burns all over her body, which she only showed to Kohl. The marks were “[their] secret” but also a way for LeFavour to “punish” the psychiatrist for “activating my desire for him.” Their therapy sessions devolved into a contest of wills, with the doctor refusing to see an increasingly distraught LeFavour if she continued to self-harm. Told that their sessions would go on only if she went to a psychiatric hospital, the author voluntarily committed herself to Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Maryland, where she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. When she returned to therapy with Kohl, they probed her taste for humiliation, which she satisfied with damaged men or those who, like the doctor, were unavailable to her. Working against demons and an inner tyrant that often threatened to overwhelm her, LeFavour learned the lessons of self-forgiveness that helped her heal. Meticulously constructed from detailed physician notes and her own journals, the book is both disturbing and deeply cathartic. As LeFavour explores the destructive relationship between her mind and body in tandem with her unhealthy, quasi-erotic attachment to her psychiatrist, she lays bare the human hunger—no matter how perverse—for acceptance and love.

A searingly eloquent and intelligent memoir.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2596-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2017


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