Book Review: The Existence of Amy

The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva

This book was gifted to me by the author some time ago, and it’s one that I’ve picked up several times in the interim, but there was always something holding me back from starting it. I think it had to do with knowing that this story deals with mental health issues, and my own mental health has been iffy at times. But I made a promise to finally get this read sometime this week. And now I regret having waited so long. I completely devoured it in just a few hours. A few hours where I may or may not have been at my desk at work. 

The Existence of Amy is the story of a pretty normal woman living a pretty normal life. She has a small apartment, a good office job, and coworkers who are more like friends. But she also suffers from sometimes-debilitating OCD, paralyzing anxiety, and bouts of severe depression. This has caused her to miss out on far too many events and relationships in her life. Just surviving each day is a struggle. 

What I loved most about The Existence of Amy is that it’s what I would call a “quiet” book. Riva has a soft and soothing writing style. There are not a bunch of unnecessary characters, nor any extraneous subplots. Everything on the page is essential to the story being told. And it’s such a beautiful story. Having myself been in some of the dull and shadowy places in which Amy resides, my heart immediately went out to her. This book is filled with dark despair, a realistic portrait of what living with an uncooperative brain is like. But this story is also filled with hope. Not the “all better now!” kind of hope that you might get from authors less in touch with the realities of mental illness. But a realistic and beautiful kind of hope; an acknowledgement of the fact that those of us struggling with mental health will never be “cured.” We merely learn how best to approach life with our unique challenges. 

To Lana Grace Riva I will say, thank you for bringing this story to the world. To everyone else, please give this beautiful book a try.

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