Mini-Reviews: So Sad Today by Melissa Broder and Sick by Porochista Khakpour

I read two very similar and very different memoirs last month. Both are written by women and focus their own lives in the way I just adore (if you have read my blog for any length of time you know how much I love memoirs written by women), but I only loved one of them and thought the other fell a bit flat.

So Sad Today by Melissa Broder29213247

Verdict: I think I might be in love.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Memoir; Creative Non-Fiction

Published by Scribe, 2016

Find it on Goodreads.

I love the way Melissa Broder writes. There is something mesmerizing in the way she structures her sentences and her essays. I read her debut novel The Pisces earlier this year and fell so much in love that I more or less immediately went out and bought this one. And I am so very glad I did.

My favourite essay in this collection is “I want to be a whole person but really thin” – it’s repeating sentences and sentence structures hammered home a point so painful and real that all the other essays that followed could not quite keep up with. Broder unflinchingly looks into her own eating disorder and the way it impacts her life and does so stylistically brillaint.

In general, So Sad Today is painfully honest in a lyrical way that made reading it a total joy while also giving me whiplash. Melissa Broder does not shy away from the uglier parts of her life and her personality. She centers herself in her art in that unapologetic way that I just adore.

32600407Sick by Porochista Khakpour

Verdict: Disappointing.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Memoir

Published by HarperPerennial, June 2018

Find it on Goodreads.

This might be my biggest reading disappointment of the year so far. I have been looking forward to this book for ages and when it finally arrived I jumped straight into reading it. I find the story Porochista Khakpour tells – of illness that went years without a diagnosis, about racism and sexism in medicine, about addiction and losing oneself – so very very important and relevant, but the execution just did not work for me. I found the structure of the book unhelpful, the jumping back and forth, sometimes within the same paragraph difficult to follow and frustrating, even though I can see how that could have worked wonderfully.

She says in the acknowledgments that she stripped her memoir of everything but herself – and maybe she was a bit too successful in that aim. I left the book not even quite knowing what Lyme Disease does to her, or what symptoms she had. Her encounters with medical doctor after medical doctor felt undefined and somehow left me confused – because I know she wanted me to see how godawful the doctors were (and I am sure they were) but I could only ever see her. I think some grounding in the reality of Lyme would have worked better for me.

My biggest problem was the prose, on a sentence-by-sentence level. I found it weirdly clumsy in parts, while sometimes being very profound. There were sentences however that I had to read multiple times to get to their meanings and I am not sure that was intentional.

 

15 thoughts on “Mini-Reviews: So Sad Today by Melissa Broder and Sick by Porochista Khakpour

  1. Great reviews! I hadn’t heard of So Sad Today and now I think I might need to get it, sounds so good! I’d heard a lot of buzz about Sick but decided not to read it because medical stories can stress me out a bit, sounds like it was the right one to skip. But frustrating because it also seems like a missed opportunity for an important topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really love Melissa Broder’s writing and enjoyed So Sad Today a whole lot, but it can be very full-on (which I happen to adore).
      I was so disappointed with Sick… I am not getting over it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s so hard when you have high expectations for a book and it lets you down! I hope your next read is so much better 🙂
        I read some reviews of So Sad Today after yours and now I’m not sure…I also like confessional and/or direct storytelling but I’m not sure about the topics she does…I think I need to page through it in a bookstore and decide!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So Sad Today is definitely not for everyone – she is way direct and often not particularly likable. I think having a look if the writing style works for is a good idea.

        Like

  2. I can’t wait to get to So Sad Today! I’m in the process of reading The Pisces now and I am absolutely in love with it. I feel like I want to read it over and over for the rest of my life.

    Liked by 1 person

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