Saturday, April 28, 2018

Book review: Because We Are Bad by Lily Bailey

Title: Because We Are Bad
Author: Lily Bailey
Publication date: March 2018 (paperback)
Publisher: Canbury
Genre: Non fiction: Memoir
Source: Review copy via publicist

As a child, Lily Bailey knew she was bad. 

By the age of 13, she had killed someone with a thought, spread untold disease, and spied upon her classmates.

Only by performing a series of secret routines could she correct her wrongdoing. But it was never enough. She had a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and it came with a bizarre twist.

This true story is from a startling new voice in non-fiction. It lights up the workings of the mind like Mark Haddon or Matt Haig.

Anyone who wants to know about OCD, and how to fight back, should read this book. Immerse yourself in a new world.

My thoughts: 
I've read a few books (fiction and non-fiction) which look at OCD, but Lily Bailey highlights a whole new angle of the illness in Because We Are Bad. The book flows as though it were fiction, following Lily's life chronologically from when she is a young girl through to her early twenties. And for most of that period, she has a second voice in her head, telling her what to do. This other person in her head gives voice to the OCD thoughts - you should wash your hands again to make sure you don't spread that disease. You're horrible, you need to do this thing to make up for it. 

It was quite hard to read in places, because the reader can see how much harm Lily was doing to herself, and how much she needed help. Even once she starts seeing a therapist, the OCD remains severe. I found it really interesting to read about the therapy sessions, what people tried to do to help, and the effects (or sometimes lack of them) on Lily and her illness.

It's a very different sort of book than Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon, which I read in the autumn & is about her journey with OCD. Lily's experience with OCD, with the voice in her head being a distinct, separate, constant presence, is not something I've read about before. But because it's so different, I think it's very worth talking about. The more people talk about what their experience with a particular issue is, the higher the likelihood that someone reading these books will be able to identify themselves in one of them.

Overall, it was a very well written book. I found it very readable, which isn't always the case with memoir, or non-fiction more broadly. I admire Lily Bailey for how open she has been with this book, and I hope that it will help people living with OCD. Overall, I'm giving it 7 out of 10.


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