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Your Voice in My Head: A Memoir Hardcover – May 3, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Your Voice in My Head is part of a literary tradition that began long before Susanna Kaysen’s girlhood was interrupted or Elizabeth Wurtzel got her first Prozac prescription. . . [Forrest is] talented . . . through these words we share her insight: there’s something to be said for occasionally listening to a voice other than your own.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Her psychiatrist dies, then her lover leaves. A memoir about finding strength when you least expect to.” —People Magazine

“[An] admirably airy and riveting book…Emma Forrest is such a winning, smart writer…”—Nick Hornby, The Believer

“If you’re reading one memoir this year, probably make it Emma Forrest’s Your Voice in My Head.” —Jewcy

“A brilliantly realized memoir of surprise and startling beauty.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Emma Forrest is an incredibly gifted writer, who crafted the living daylights out of every sentence in this unforgettable memoir. I can’t remember the last time I ever read such a blistering, transfixing story of obsession, heartbreak and slow, stubborn healing.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

“Emma Forrest is as hilarious as she is wise. And did I mention generous? Unlike most memoirs this is not merely a song of oneself, but a debt of gratitude repaid to an incredible man—her psychiatrist. Your Voice In My Head is touching, funny, and very real.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“I read Your Voice in My Head in one sitting, by turns laughing out loud, gasping with recognition, and fighting to hold back tears—and wondering, of course, who is Emma Forrest and how is she able to write with such enormous wit and bravery about subjects most folks can’t muster the courage to bring up in conversation: suicide, self-loathing, loneliness, depression, mania, and, most of all, love inexplicably lost.” —Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of A Fortunate Age
“Forrest’s insightful and snappily-written account of her lengthy battles against depression, self-harm, damaging relationships, and potato-based fried snacks is heartfelt and touching and surprisingly funny.” —Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, Dazed and Confused
“A bittersweet love letter . . . It is a brilliant read.” —Sunday Times Style Magazine 
“[Your Voice in My Head] dances along with all the lyrical panache of a novel . . . Her prose is smart and frequently witty and there are echoes of early Lorrie Moore.” —Julie Myerson, The Observer

“Forrest is stylish and evocative; whether she is sick and listless in New York or sex-dipped and radiantly happy in Los Angeles, she writes it cool, clever, and ravaging, in very few strokes. . . Her story is crushing and complicated, and entirely common . . . It's gorgeous.” —The Globe and Mail

Your Voice in My Head is every drink that’s ever started out sweet then turned strong enough to sneak up on you and kick your ass to the floor, or bed, or hell, or heaven.” —Dan Kennedy, author of Loser Goes First, Rock On, and host of The Moth storytelling podcast

About the Author

Emma Forrest is the author of three novels and editor of the nonfiction essay collection Damage Control. Raised in London, she now lives in Los Angeles, where she is a screenwriter.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press; First Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590514467
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590514467
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,124,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By LSA on February 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
On a technical note, I have to say that this book is not as well-written as I expected. The quoted passages that I previously read in various articles, were kind of the best ones. That standard is not always maintained. There are moments of poetic beauty, but then the next line is just a contrived mess. I don't see myself as suffering from a reading comprehension problem, but here and there I really had no idea what Emma Forrest meant.

But here's my single biggest criticism - marketing and selling this book as a story about a woman coping with the loss of her psychiatrist (Dr R), is DISHONEST. More bluntly put - it's a LIE!

Not even in a literal sense does this book focus on Dr R. It's 214 pages long, and after one or two references to Gypsy Husband (Colin Farrell, as we all know) early on, it's ALL about him from page 112 onwards. But more importantly, from an emotional viewpoint, her loss of Gypsy Husband (GH) is clearly the real story here, and it's the shrink's story that's the secondary issue.

Actually, the depiction of Dr R's meaning in her life already suffers early on. Forrest never quite manages to explain how he really affected her in a positive way. He's an anchor, obviously (which GH also later becomes, mind you), but as for the actual contribution to her well-being? She fails to articulate that, I'm afraid. Of course she mentions that he said this and that and made this and that observation, but nothing really seems to carry that much weight. I have a feeling she knew she was selling him short, because she inserts quotes from Dr R's other patients every few pages. As if it was needed to do him justice, because she couldn't do so with her OWN story.

The opposite is true of her account of her relationship with GH.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Shelagh on May 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have bipolar type II - I'm drawn to books that deal with mental health and, more specifically, to those written about, or by, people with bipolar. So when a friend offered to lend me Your Voice in My Head I leapt at the chance.

At first glance the cover for Your Voice in My Head looks rather baffling and surreal. But it's an image that represents the high and lows of the author's illness beautifully. Emma Forrest has bipolar type I, where mania and depression cycle more extremely than in type II. The fluttering butterflies represent the brightness and creativity that mania can be at first as they are freed to escape into the air. But in the midst of depression, where it can feel like you're drowning, they are stilled. A lot of thought has gone into this cover and it is an eye-catching and effective metaphor for the illness that has had such an impact on Forrest's life.

Forrest's writing is slick and descriptive and she wields language like a conductor shapes music. In this sense Your Voice in My Head reads like a carefully crafted novel. It speaks highly of the author's talent, but it is almost as though she is hiding behind her beautiful words and I battled to connect with her while reading this book. There are moments, especially when she is discussing her psychiatrist, where the person behind the words steps out. But these moments never seemed to last and I would lose that connection. Forrest is bluntly and brutally honest throughout the book, but about situations more than herself. I would have respected her more if that same honesty had been focussed on herself and her feelings.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By kiddo on May 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You're busy. You want to read something you are going to appreciate and/or enjoy. This book is probably (or maybe hopefully, if you have any taste whatsoever) not for you.

Emma Forrest is an uneven writer at best; midway through the book it's barely about her relationship with her doctor anymore. That wouldn't be such an issue, if that's not how this book is sold to potential readers. What I really did not like about this book, though, is how completely privileged and clueless about it Emma Forrest seems; she comes from a well off family who helps her out with her doctor bills; she lives in an apartment in NYC and attends fun parties you and I could never get invited to, she dates a celebrity ("Gypsy Husband" is Colin Farrell, fyi. Why she bothers to conceal this fact is a mystery. A quick Google search was all it took to reveal that info). I just...I couldn't feel for her. Emma Forrest's job here was to make me care about her. I didn't.

If you are going to purchase this book anyway, it is at least any easy read. Nothing challenging here, few brain cells required. I read it in a couple of hours on a weekend. If I recommended this book, it would be to someone more liberal than I am, and then only as a beach read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Em on February 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was recommended this book by a friend who knows I like memoirs. Because I do enjoy reading memoirs, I've read a great deal of them spanning a range from ridiculous to wonderful. I'd say this particular book falls more toward the former.

In bare bones, what you have is this story: a young girl has (maybe) bipolar disorder, does angsty teen things like cutting and experimenting with anorexia, comes to New York to work as a writer, sees a therapist, stages a dramatic suicide attempt, starts dating an actor, gets dumped by the actor, feels depressed, continues to pursue actor even though he no longer has interest in her, finds out her therapist has died of cancer, feels more depressed, writes a book about the above.

I don't think her story is especially surprising or unusual. I think you could poll young women in New York and find a similar story a thousand times over or more. She's clearly very attached to her bipolar diagnosis, and calls it "my madness!" in a very dramatic and excited way. As the parent of teenagers, I recognize a lot of the teen angst and melodrama of that age, the belief that she was possibly the first person to ever feel this way, that "terminal specialness" she truly believes each of her feelings possesses.

She spends a lot of pages relating conversations she had with her shrink in which she portrays herself as saying tough, cool, acerbically witty things to him and then relates that her therapist is actually really impressed with her. Between the lines, I got the feeling her therapist was employing a kind of dialectical behavioral therapy in which he pretty much validates whatever she says and gives her approval while slipping the therapy around the edges.
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