From Publishers Weekly
What could have been a fascinating exploration of a complex psyche never gets much beyond the level of stand-up comedy in this disappointing memoir of a young woman's life with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Substituting sarcasm for insight, Colas presents brief, easily digestible tidbits describing her overwhelming fear that she might catch diseases from strangers. She recounts her bizarre rituals of handwashing, garbage disposal, 800-number calling (is this product really safe?) that eventually hurt others and destroyed her marriage. Colas can be funny ?(an episode of the stranger's underpants in the laundromat dryer is especially amusing ("I called my OB to ask her if she'd be willing to test me for gonorrhea")?but her flat prose and superficial approach mask an intelligence that's never sufficiently engaged with this material?a typical analysis is, "It sucks big time." Though Colas provides occasional glimpses of a disturbed childhood, she quickly covers them up with her flippant comic routine. She's disappointed that her illness is less interesting than heroin addiction?it's just "insanity lite," she writes, and "Rock stars don't get magazine covers because they kept their audience waiting while they washed their hands twenty times." By keeping her book at the level of a Seinfeld routine, Colas ensures that readers will gain little insight into a condition that deserves better treatment than it gets in this memoir lite.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Colas worries a lot. She fears that the baby-sitter is using the family's toothbrushes. She suspects someone has tampered with her Cap'n Crunch. An obsessive-compulsive mother of two, Colas makes worry an art. This anecdotal, first-person account of Colas' illness is highly readable and funny. It also benefits from one of the symptoms of the illness (which affects 2.5 percent of Americans over the life course): a vague awareness that something
is awry. At its best, Just Checking
is a lighthearted glimpse of a treatable illness. But it's not the whole story. After she runs over a chipmunk, Colas repeatedly returns to the scene to verify that she has not killed a child. Behind the comic behaviors that Colas emphasizes is a gnawing disorder that is often painful and frightening. One hopes that Colas will take up her pen again, explore this part of her experience, and risk the darkness. Lee Reilly