SOCIAL SCIENCES

Lights On, Rats Out: A Memoir

Grove. Aug. 2017. 244p. ISBN 9780802125965. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780802189158. MEMOIR
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Powerful and troubling, cookbook author LeFavour's (Fish) memoir of temporary insanity and eventual redemption is a voyeuristic portrayal of a young woman's descent into a state of self-destruction that eventually culminates in a stint in a mental institution. Bulimia, self-mutilation, and transference are central factors in the author's story; the detail in which the pleasure/pain of burning is described reveals much about the writer's mental state and serves as a harrowing, realistic representation of the compulsion to self-harm. The narrative often reads as a stream-of-consciousness, in which a collection of thoughts, anxiety, and mental lists add an extra layer of truth to the representation of personality disorder and the stages that mark the progress of a mental breakdown. At times narcissistic, LaFavour's voice can be exasperating. Her privilege is evident, and her story may not resonate with all readers. Moreover, the descriptions of self-harm may be triggers for some audiences.
VERDICT Combining medical records with a deeply personal narrative, this unique exploration of mental health and therapy deserves a place among memoirs such as Susanna Kay's Girl, Interrupted, and Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation.

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