Monday, January 21, 2013

Book review: Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest

Goodreads: “Emma Forrest, an English journalist, was twenty-two and living in America when she realised that her quirks had gone beyond eccentricity. A modern day fairy tale of New York, Your Voice in My Head is a dazzling and devastating memoir, clear-eyed and shot through with wit. In a voice unlike any other, Emma Forrest explores depression and mania, but also the beauty of love—and the heartbreak of loss.”
Wow, this book, you guys! I honestly really loved it, but probably in that way that, much like the list of movies that once appeared on Pajiba, I’ll still never want to read it again. It is painful and heartbreaking to read Forrest’s account of her depression and loss, and a lot of it hits really close to home. Amazingly, she accomplishes this emotive clarity without being overwrought or histronic, even when recounting subject matter that drew her close to suicide.

I was really worried that a memoir from a young 30-something about depression would come off as self-indulgent and pretentious. In truth, based on other reviews, people have felt that way about it; however, I didn’t sense that at all. For one thing, it helps that she didn’t try to tell her entire life story — mostly, the book focuses on the fallout from a particular set of events in her life. Of course, much of the book sets the contexts for and leads up to this moment, but it never feels like she’s trying to give herself or her life more significance than she’s earned. Forrest seems to have a remarkable sense of humor about herself, even regarding her darkest moments, and despite the subject matter, she tells her tale with an ounce of levity. I’d imagine a book like this coming out of a roundtable discussion between Frank McCourt, Sylvia Plath, and Nick Hornby.

In short, I really enjoyed this book, despite it sometimes being gut-wrenching and sometimes wanting to read it through my hands covering my eyes. It stops just short of being a ‘five-star’ book, but that’s mostly because that rating is for books I’m likely to want to read over and over again. As much as this was a great read, it’s too emotional to want to go there again.


  1. I feel like I read your review at the perfect time...I'm in search of something new. I recently reread the bell jar and loved it...I get the feeling I could dig this read just as much.

    1. Definitely check it out, especially if you liked The Bell Jar.