Harper. Jun. 2018. 272p. ISBN 9780062428738. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062428721. MEMOIR
Novelist Khakpour (The Last Illusion) recalls escaping revolution and war in Iran with her parents in the 1980s and relocating to the suburbs of Los Angeles. Storytelling helped her survive a childhood in which she experienced fainting and tremors, symptoms that stayed with her through adulthood. Khakpour is painfully honest about her drug use and lingering cocaine addiction, wondering if that impacted her mysterious illness, later confirmed to be Lyme disease. The author shines when recounting the years of dealing with skeptical doctors, often while lacking health insurance, and how depression and insomnia affected her personal and professional life. She conveys the transient life of an academic, from Pennsylvania to New Mexico to Germany, often the lone Iranian on campus or in town. The narrative can be exasperating, as she pursues partners who are also willing to assume a caretaker role. Still, Khakpour writes cogently about modern health issues: dating while chronically ill, using GoFundMe to crowdsource payment for medical bills, and navigating alternative medicine and mysticism.
VERDICT A sometimes challenging memoir of feeling out of place, both inside and outside of one's own body; yet Khakpour brings a fresh perspective on how women live and cope with mental and chronic illness.

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