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Nowhere Near Normal: A Memoir of OCD Hardcover – April 5, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Growing up in the 1970s with an anxiety disorder that was only later diagnosed as obsessive compulsive lent a strange, disquieting edge to San Francisco author Foust's childhood, as she re-creates it in this moving memoir. Chapters proceed through Foust's childhood chronologically, from age eight, when her parents broke up and she moved with her mother, older brother, and sister into a South San Jose (Bay area) apartment complex, and she could indulge her microbe fears and hypochondria. As a child Foust could not master the intractability of numbers, but excelled in spelling and English; she lied frequently, insisted on systematic ways of organizing her things, and had morbid concerns about safety and hygiene. Inexplicable actions, such as locking her best friend in a hot car, then running away, prompted visits to psychologists, who first diagnosed Foust as schizophrenic; later in high school she found comfort in NyQuil and antihistamines, coming gradually to the realization that the compulsions waxed and waned depending on levels of stress. Foust pokes fun at her own sense of self-pity and describes the lack of empathy in others, giving readers an intimate look at OCD from the inside. (Apr.)
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About the Author

Traci Foust grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and received a degree in American Literature from UCSC. Her writing credits included contemporary short fiction in The Black Satellite Anthology (2000) to winning the Northern California Olympiad of the Arts award for the same category. She has also been published in Hyperlexia Literary Journal (3/09). She currently lives in San Diego, CA. Nowhere Near Normal is her first book-length work of nonfiction.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439192502
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439192504
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,194,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Advance Praise for NOWHERE NEAR NORMAL

"A moving memoir... giving readers an intimate look at OCD from the inside"
Publisher's Weekly

"Funny, frenetic and painfully honest."
Rachel Simon, Bestselling Author, Riding the Bus with my Sister

"... You see yourself in her again and again."
Kerry Cohen, Award Winning Author of Loose Girl, Easy and Seeing Ezra

"Foust writes like a possessed Lynda Barry, all the dirty little secrets of adolescence are laid bare in this remarkable story."
D.A. Kodelenko, San Diego City Beat Magazine

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I live with OCD (my son is obsessive-compulsive), but I think anyone who enjoys memoirs--as I do--would find this a fascinating read.

I loved Ms Foust's voice. Her writing is raw, funny, and wonderfully quirky. Yes, it's dark, but NOWHERE NEAR NORMAL is also an honest story of survival. It was quite an experience entering her world, even though parts of it were horribly familiar to me!
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Format: Hardcover
"Nowhere Near Normal" is an interesting look at OCD from the perspective of someone who's issues began at age 8. Traci quickly realized that she wasn't "normal", but could not help unplugging appliances, checking and triple checking all the door and window locks, and becoming extremely upset with odd numbers which made math homework especially difficult. Her family was pretty crazy and often had no idea how to deal with Traci and all her problems. She was diagnosed with OCD in her early teens, but it wasn't really explained to her at the time. Later she used Nyquil and antihistamines to help control her OCD and anxiety before finally being prescribed anti-anxiety medication as an adult. I think a combination of the time period and her dysfunctional family could have made things worse for Traci, but once she was finally on the right medication her life was finally on track. A raw, unique look at what OCD actually feels like for someone who suffers from it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Television has simplified and sanitized Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), giving us Monk, the uptight detective who braves an invisible world of militant germs to solve crimes while displaying plenty of charmingly repetitive behavior that allows us to join the supporting cast in rolling our eyes and saying, "Look! He's doing it again!"

Traci Foust's Nowhere Near Normal--a memoir of OCD, is not made-for-television. It's too real. Too uncomfortable. Too honest. And too hilarious. In a dark, disturbed, disquieting way. Like when the as yet undiagnosed 10-year-old Foust, exhibiting plenty of cool, calm, and collected malice aforethought, plans and nearly succeeds at using a car to murder a playmate. Who's going to pay any attention to a commercial for Viagra or minivans after that?

But, a movie? Yes, a movie. Do Joel and Ethan Coen have daughters? Nowhere Near Normal is the book they should option and adapt into their first film.

Don't get me wrong. This is a fast read. But it ain't an easy read. Foust's writing fits like a favorite old pair of jeans with the blown-out holes in both knees--so tell me why my guts were tied in a knot the whole way through? In Foust, our matter-of-fact narrator, we trust. Yet we never feel comfortable in this place. Which is fine. We're not meant to. Foust quickly dispenses with setting the scene, getting the weather right: Suburban California in the 1970s. The familiar hot sun is shining on us. The familiar birds are yakking it up in the trees. We can hear the familiar, neigh, the burned-into-our-collective-DNA soundtrack of pop and alt rock tunes, television theme songs, and laugh track punctuated dialogue.
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Format: Hardcover
"Nowhere Near Normal" is a terrific book, and not at all what I expected. Be forewarned: Traci Foust is not going to hold your hand and tell you it's all going to be okay. This isn't some trite "human interest story". This is the real deal, this is what OCD can look like from the inside. It is, by turns, shocking, hilarious, heartbreaking, and kind. In other words: human. This is a memoir, people. This is the story of HER experience with OCD, not ALL experience with OCD. Her command of the language and her keen recollection of the cultural touchstones of her childhood anchor us firmly in her world, but at the very core it is her honesty about her experience that makes the book revelatory. On the face of it, there's nothing funny about a child brushing her teeth with Ajax, but with the author's skill at drawing the reader into the maelstrom of her OCD thought processes we can at least begin to view it with humane understanding. I look forward to more work from this new author.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Nowhere Near Normal" meets the test of a truly satisfying literature - it breaks your heart, makes you laugh out loud and in the end makes you want to read the sequel. Traci Foust's writing is gorgeous. Sentences that manage to startle and astound without any hint of pretension are woven throughout this memoir, so even readers who think they're not interested in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) will find themselves quickly engaged. In her unsparing, darkly humorous narrative, Foust shows what it is like to grow up with an all-consuming anxiety disorder without the medications and effective therapy that would eventually help her to become somewhere "near normal." As a child, her OCD caused Foust to fear harm would come to others if she were not constantly vigilant and meticulous in performing compulsive rituals, from hand-washing with Ajax to unplugging all appliances at night and arranging figurines in a specific way. Her efforts to control and disguise her disease are heartbreaking and her stories detailing what it is like to be in the grip of OCD are harrowing. Anyone who has not experienced this illness will walk away with new understanding and compassion, and anyone who has lived with or around OCD will be grateful to Traci Foust for so vividly and poignantly describing it from the inside.
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