DNF 50%Maybe I was simply not in the mood for self indulgent rambling but I found it really hard to keep interested in Lights On, Rats Out by Cree LeFavour and her history She describes her family as being wealthy, fortunate, able to live, travel and buy whatever they wanted Her parents enjoyed the vivid, drug infused lives of the 1970 s, at one point living in Aspen as neighbours of Hunter S Thompson When LeFavour was a teenager, the family moved, and her parents abandoned her and her sister to their own devices Their father found another life in California, and their mother preferred to spend time outside of the house, living with neighbours and developing lesbian relationships She believes these are the reason she developed bulimia, then while in therapy, fell in love with her therapist and punished herself for the unrequited love by burning herself with cigarettes I left her story during her stay in a mental hospital when she could not keep herself from self harm LeFavour wears her dysfunction as a badge, the same way she wears her love for literature and dead authors as a badge She frequently references quotes from novels, as well as Freud and Jung as a way to examine her own mental health issues She admits that she is a typical privilege girl who has, really, no reason to be sad or depressed or suicidal There is no obvious reason why she should be those things, but the human brain isn t that straight forward I am no expert, nor do I ever challenge the problems of others, but I found it hard to see past her infatuation with her own problems Those issues include 1 Her parents are wealthy therefore immature and distant2 She s had a lonely childhood3 She s can t live up to her own standards and is a perfectionist4 She burns herself with cigarettes5 She s in love with her therapistI sympathise with LeFavour, and maybe her story could have been compelling if it wasn t for her redundant, unengaging writing It kept on going in circles, recalling the same feelings and conflicts Basically, it was dull In any case, I made it halfway before I decided that my time is better spent on other books I enjoy memoirs I think the important thing with memoirs is for the person s life to be very interesting, very funny or very devastating For example, I really enjoyed Russell Brand s My Booky Wook, but that s because he s a brilliant, sad, clown who laughs at his own mistakes and is hilarious and brilliant all around I also loved Caroline Knapp s Drinking, A Love Story, which focused on her alcoholism, battle with anorexia and addiction as whole Its draw was her prose, her ability to stand outside of herself and examine drinking, why people do it, and how they live with it There s also A Million Little Pieces, the 2003 Best Seller by James Frey, the novel sort of memoir, which I loved in high school I was hoping that Lights on, Rats Out by Cree LaFavour would be just as dramatic, devastating and lovable Except that I was wrong. I had no clue what I was getting into when I started reading this book I had requested it from the library, so there was something in the description that drew me to it, but by the time it arrived, I had forgotten it was a book I d requested.As I began reading I was immediately aware of something very familiar in this story of Cree LeFavour and her journey through mental illness, or if not through it, learning to live with it I don t think it ever really goes away, but if you re lucky and are blessed with the right therapist and psychiatrist, you are given the tools to manage it You also need a very strong will to live.I came upon a paragraph towards the end of the book with a few sentences that I silently said yes to The author was describing her psychiatrist who was also her analyst, and her afterthoughts about why he put her in a psychiatric hospital I have no regrets, even though part of my identity now includes a stint in a psychiatric hospital I m now forever inside the crude line drawn around the mentally ill The line demarcates those inside from those outside who remain within the norm.Anyway, I was reminded of a rather hideous time in my life which was a 12 year battle for my life I remain forever grateful to my therapist, psychiatrist, and mostly, my mother, who never gave up on me. When I first began reading this memoir by Cree LeFavour titled, Lights On, Rats Out it became so utterly brutal, describing how she would go through her ritual of self harming, almost without preamble that I wasn t really prepared for it I considered quitting the book, something I rarely do as it had unsettled me so much, but I put it aside for the day and gave it some thought After deciding that it had just struck a personal nerve, I decided to give it another try, and I m glad I did The book is so beautifully written, and she works so hard to make changes in herself, understanding how her early days and lack of parenting affected her Having read quite a lot about similar areas during my life, I thought I was fairly well read on the topics But this book surely enlightened me a whole lot further I applaud the author for so bravely and beautifully sharing her story that will surely help others that are thinking about getting help, but maybe don t know what to expect You are certainly a beacon of hope Shocking yet moving at the same time My thanks to NetGalley, Grove Press, and Cree LeFavour for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my review. To be honest, I d give it a 3 because I just liked it But I m bumping it a star to make up for the ridiculous other ratings It s rubbish that other commenters have found FAULT with the character author s back story Here s the simple matter if you re someone who regularly critiques films or literature for being about white people problems or middle class anxiety , don t bother reading this book For the rest of you slightly sane lot IE those of you who don t possess the sort of self loathing and guilt for yourselves being middle class assuming that your Goodreads account is a pretty good indication of your belonging to such a group , go ahead and read on If you enjoyed Jenny Lawson s Furiously Happy, you might be interested in this book I think it does a fantastic job of exploring mental illness and is an intricate, raw self portrait of a woman who suffers deep psychological trauma I commend LeFavour for her brutal depiction of herself, and I found her to be a fascinating human and a talented writer However, I thought around the half way point that it started to become repetitious and long winded I should also warn that this book could definitely be triggering I found myself being sucked into the abyss, though I also have been reading it during a time of difficulty. This is a highly analytic memoir about the author s psychological treatment, diagnoses, and behaviour Her main behaviours are burning herself and purging She also often quotes scholars in the field to support her thoughts A number of obsessions burden her As such this book is unlikely to appeal to many people It is, however, very well written and is brutally honest Not having any of these behaviours myself, I nevertheless stuck with it mainly out of curiosity What motivates someone to hurt themselves in this way How can extreme pain become a pleasure, a source of addiction, and or a release Can therapy help this condition s The first third of the book was very interesting but it was a bit of a slog after that I thought another third of it could have been omitted or severely edited Sometimes it felt self indulgent But this is a highly intelligent woman with excellent analytical skills and it must have taken both strength and resilience to be able to write this book. Lefavour is a strong writer, and I was often engrossed in this book, but I think she over relies on medical records they are boring to read, and it appears some dialogue is taken from the doctors record of their sessions, written verbatim in the book, which feels stiff Aside from that, the memoir feels a bit solipsistic, even as I hate that particular criticism of memoir The books strength is that the author bores down into her psyche and psychosis, but that s also its weakness the book can feel at times dull at best, suffocating at worst For readers deeply interested in psychological memoir, this book would be of interest The story would have benefited from the author often backing out of the depth of the psychological well, to write from the distance she now has. A Harrowing, Beautiful, Searching, And Deeply Literary Memoir In These Pages, We Watch Cree LeFavour Evolve From A Wounded And Wounding Lost Girl To A Woman Who Can At Last Regard Her Existence With A Modicum Of Mercy And Forgivenessa Story Of True Self Salvation And Transformation Elizabeth GilbertAs A Young College Graduate A Year Into Treatment With A Psychiatrist, Cree LeFavour S Began To Organize Her Days Around The Cruel, Compulsive Logic Of Self Harm With Each Newly Lit Cigarette, The World Would Drop Away As Her Focus Narrowed To An Unblemished Patch Of Skin Calling Out For Attention And The Fierce, Blooming Release Of Pleasure Pain As The Burning Tip Was Applied To The Skin Her Body Was A Canvas Of Cruelty Each Scar A Mark Of Pride And ShameIn Sharp And Shocking Language, Lights On, Rats Out Brings Us Closely Into These Years, Allowing Us To Feel The Pull Of A Stark Compulsion Taking Over A Mind We See The World As Cree Did Turned Upside Down, The Richness Of Life Muted And Dulled, Its Pleasures Perverted The Heady, Vertiginous Thrill Of Meeting With Her Psychiatrist, Dr X Whose Relationship With Cree Is At Once Sustaining And Paralyzing Comes To Be The Only Bright Spot In Her Mental SolitudeHer Extraordinary Access To And Inclusion Of The Notes Kept By Dr X During Treatment Offer Concrete Evidence Of Cree S Transformation Over Years Of Therapy But It Is Her Own Evocative And Razor Sharp Prose That Traces A Path From A Lonely And Often Sad Childhood To Her Reluctant Commitment To And Emergence From A Psychiatric Hospital, To The Saving Refuge Of Literature And Eventual Acceptance Of Love Moving Deftly Between The Dialogue And Observations From Psychiatric Records And Elegant, Incisive Reflection On Youth And Early Adulthood, Lights On, Rats Out Illuminates A Fiercely Bright And Independent Woman S Charged Attachment To A Mental Health Professional And The Dangerous Compulsion To Keep Him In Her Life At All Costs Cree LeFavour takes us on a dark and twisted journey into an unusual period of her life where her mental health led her to self mutilation Her wit, poeticism, and sense of humor about her struggle with mental health make this a fantastically juicy and beautiful read The intention is not to make you feel sorry for her plight, but to look back on an unusual life moment with the wisdom and humor of an adult who survived some crazy stuff It s raw, dark, and dirty. Overwritten, repetitive, wordy memoir littered with unnecessarily pretentious literary references See my other ten word book reviews at my blog If you ve never waded into the morass of self destruction, this book might tell you something new But if you have, you know the drill In this memoir, Cree LeFavour chronicles her mental health crisis, beginning at the age of 25 when she sees a psychiatrist for the first time A longtime secret bulimic, LeFavour sees the shrink for help and ends up falling in love with him A classic case of transference, so says Freud and LeFavour, though knowing it doesn t diminish her love for him What follows is an escalating case of self harm as LeFavour grapples with her childhood abandonment and her likely genetic proclivity towards depression, obsession, and compulsion The problem with books about the depressed, obsessed and compulsive is that they are, by the nature of their illness, very boring Perhaps if you have a friend or loved one struggling with self harm or compulsive self destruction, this memoir can shed light onto what it s like to have the same thought over and over The pleasures of ritual and repetition and pain, and the seductive seeming safety of singular thought, can be bewildering to those who ve never dipped their toes in it LeFavour tries to heighten the experience with allusions to literature, including Thomas Mann s The Magic Mountain and just about every woman in the canon fictional and real who has ended it all A galling number, it turns out, but those interludes didn t stop me from flipping to the back and scanning the pages for the miraculous recovery that allowed LeFavour to become an award winning cookbook author, wife and mother To her credit, LeFavour doesn t pivot on an epiphany Like most recoveries, she came by hers through the grind of one day, one hour, one moment at a time But, there s something irksome in slogging through the recovery stories of the very privileged It s not that I deny LeFavour, the product of familial wealth, her right to pain it s just that this might have been inspiring if LeFavour also had to hold down a job and negotiate the annals of an insufficient insurance plan You almost wonder if things would have gotten so bad if she had had to It doesn t help that Cree LeFavour isn t exactly likeable in this memoir most depressed, obsessed and compulsive people aren t By the fourth time that she mentions that her team of mental health professionals remarked on her superior intelligence in her files, I wasn t surprised that they also checked the box for narcissistic personality traits Lastly, LeFavour lacks the propensity with language that has made other recovery and or addiction memoirs I ve read well worth the time I d only recommend it to people trying to understand the mind of a troubled loved one, or very long recovered self harmers who may find solace in the shared experience.
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- 244 pages
- Lights On, Rats Out
- Cree LeFavour
- 18 July 2019 Cree LeFavour