A harrowingly honest memoir of profound psychological struggle.

A British model and writer's account of how she learned to live with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

As a child, the author privately referred to herself as “we.” However, the girl that “shared” Bailey’s mind was no imaginary friend: she was the “other” who drove her to check on her sleeping sister several times a night, wash her hands to rawness, and mentally repeat elaborate “prayer[s].” She existed to ensure that Bailey carried out rituals as “protection against everything going wrong” and make up for all her real and imagined mistakes, from killing someone with a thought to spreading deadly disease. As Bailey grew up, her secret “other” became increasingly exacting and onerous: “she [was] a banshee…a spoiled child demanding the whole of me.” By the time the author was an adolescent, her “double” made her recite long strings of letters in her head, each of which stood for the first letter of an action (such as staring) or a thing (such as bad breath) for which she sought retribution. Bailey finally revealed her list-making habit to a school doctor, who referred her to a psychiatrist named Dr. Finch. Intensive therapy helped the author free herself from her “other,” whom she then “replaced” with her doctor. Determined to free herself from dependence on Dr. Finch, the author severed their connection and stopped taking medication after leaving England to attend college in Ireland. The result was a first term characterized by heavy drinking, shoplifting, and attempted suicide. Only after returning to London to face her demons and work through transference issues with her psychiatrist was Bailey finally able to find relief from her overactive mind and the underlying anxiety that had defined her life. In her courageous book, the author offers compelling insight into the pain and destructive power of OCD as well as the resilience of a young woman determined to beat the odds.

A harrowingly honest memoir of profound psychological struggle.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-269616-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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