The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva 

 March 16, 2023

By  BookishBearx

Today’s review is a review request that was sent into me by author, Lana Grace Riva. It is for her book The Existence of Amy. From the information that was in our short email exchange, it sounded like a very promising book, so here we are!

The Existence of Amy is a contemporary fiction novel which focuses highly on mental health and it’s impact on lives and relationships. It was first published on 2nd August 2019 and is available on kindle and also paper back. It is a fairly short read spanning just 247 pages. For the interest of the reader, I will include the synopsis below from Goodreads so you have an idea of the plot…

Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no immediate obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. Tithe only one her brain will let her lead.

Throughout this book we follow Amy, a young woman who works in web design. She has amazing friends, that are always inviting her for drinks and to events. She loves them so, but there is something inside of her stopping her from doing things that other people does. She doesn’t fully understand it and more than anything she wants to be free of this thing inside her, so she can go back to being the fun and sociable person that she once was.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It has a very heavy focus on mental health, specifically OCD and depression. Due to a lot of misconceptions of what OCD actually is, I often find myself reading books and even hearing people talk about OCD that don’t quite capture it. They minimise it as “oh I have OCD because I like a clean home” or “I’m OCD because I like things a certain way.” Yes, in some aspects people with OCD have things a certain way and they like to be clean and tidy, but that’s not it. It is the bone crushing fear that comes when your OCD tells you that what you just did or touched was wrong, how that will now end catastrophically. It’s the ritualistic behaviour that you convince yourself that if you don’t do something incredibly terrible will happen to you or even the people you love. It takes over your life and ruins it. It isn’t just being tidy. So I long ago stopped expecting books about OCD to be accurate. But this one was pretty well depicted and put together. That alone, deserves a round of applause. It is clear that the author has either experienced OCD personally or has done some proper research into the illness and its effect on those who have it.

The characters in the book as well were lovely. It was mostly based around people Amy works with, who are her main social group. The relationships were full of depth and understanding, which I loved. People’s reactions and interactions throughout the book were realistic and plausible. It read like you were reading about a real life and not fiction. I never know how to really explain what I mean by that, but the way the book has been written, really makes these characters just jump off of the page, giving them so much depth and growth.

I mostly liked this book, the one thing that I didn’t like was the little twist that happens between Amy and Ed, who is arguably her best friend in the book. The person she is closest with at work. I don’t want to go into the twist to much as I don’t like including spoilers in my reviews, but this twist just made me dislike him a lot. Which was a real shame, as he was probably one of my favourite characters until then. I felt throughout the book instead of growing as a person he made crap decisions and acted out since then.

All in all, this book is amazingly written and put together. I would be cautious of reading if you struggle reading about ritualistic behaviour or of OCD or depression. It could be triggering if you do, but I think it’s so important that a book has accurately depicted such a horrible, terrifying illness with such accuracy. Especially when it is often depicted as something less. I would 100% recommend reading this! I loved it.

Star Rating /5


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