In a reprint of her 2006 verse memoir, Schutz (You Are Not Here, 2010, etc.) details her journey working through and accepting her panic disorder in her teens and early 20s.
When Schutz, who is white and Jewish, left home for her first year at her small, liberal arts college, she didn’t anticipate that her experience would be hijacked by anxiety disorder. Almost immediately, however, she began to have overwhelming panic attacks that drastically disrupted her life. While she quickly gained access to therapy and medication, her mental health was still shaky. Medications were hit and miss; panic attacks came and went; studying abroad became excruciatingly difficult. She began the long, hard, nearly endless work of coping with her anxiety and panic, her on-again, off-again relationships with boys, the ebbs and flows of friendships, and trepidation at managing everyday life as a college student. A rapid conclusion may leave readers feeling cut short, but an author’s note provides insight into Schutz’s life post-book and includes mental health resources. Schutz relays the internalized shame she experienced with honesty. However, filled with telling rather than showing, Schutz’s free verse falls flat and comes across as neither truly raw nor finessed. Oppressive vocabulary is used without contextualization or critique (“retarded,” “slut,” “crazy,” “handicapped”), which contributes to aspects of the book feeling outdated rather than just set during the early 2000s.
Authentic but underwhelming. (author’s note) (Verse memoir. 13-18)