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

4.5 out of 5 stars 32 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 (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,529,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Claypole on May 7, 2011
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
This is a dark and unique memoir of living with OCD. Traci Foust is very open about her lifetime of living with this difficult disorder.

While having its humorous moments, the reality of the disorder is not at all funny. Traci takes us back to the beginnings of her OCD, her childhood. While her manner of retelling her memories may be funny to us, the actual memories, which was her reality is quite sad.

The childhood that Traci recalls may seem normal; in many ways we can relate to certain recollections and feelings. However with OCD, everything is in overdrive, exaggerated, not by choice, but by an inner force one can't control.

Traci does exceptionally well at showing us her world. I think she was quite bold by allowing us to see it, and to laugh at things that were not funny for her to endure. Perhaps her book will help some readers who have or know someone who has OCD. Perhaps it will help someone to understand this often misunderstood disorder. I hope it was cathartic for Traci, too.
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Format: Hardcover
From the first page, Traci Foust, pulled me in and didn't let go. Even when I came to the last page, I found myself not wanting to put the book down. I kept flipping through the back pages, wanting to know what happens in Germany, needing to know what happens to Traci.

This Word Artist has a way with the English vocabulary that made my eyes learn new dance steps and my eardrums pop and stop at every punctuation. She is fabulously fresh and candid with her delicious descriptions and her use of pop culture took me right back to the 80's and 90's when "Girls Just Want(ed) To Have Fun" and "Livin' On The Edge" was a lifestyle, not a choice.

Not to mention, as a person who was naive to the symptoms and struggles of OCD, I feel as though I now have a better understanding and appreciate Traci for being truly courageous in sharing the details she was once ashamed to admit.

BRAVA, Ms. Foust and keep writing because you have a voice that can speak to the masses and a wit that reminds us that we are all ONE in the same, authentically human. I am already and definitely eager to read whatever you write next! :)
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