A Best Book of the Year: Real Simple, Entropy, Mental Floss, Bitch Media, The Paris Review, and LitHub.
Time Magazine's Best Memoirs of 2018 • Boston Globe's 25 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2018 • Buzzfeed's 33 Most Exciting New Books • GQ Best Non Fiction Book of 2018 • Bustle’s 28 Most Anticipated Nonfiction Books of 2018 list • Nylon’s 50 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018 • Electric Literature’s 46 Books to Read By Women of Color in 2018
“Porochista Khakpour’s powerful memoir, Sick, reads like a mystery and a reckoning with a love song at its core. Humane, searching, and unapologetic, Sick is about the thin lines and vast distances between illness and wellness, healing and suffering, the body and the self. Khakpour takes us all the way in on her struggle toward health with an intelligence and intimacy that moved, informed, and astonished me.” — Cheryl Strayed, New York Times bestselling author of Wild
A powerful, beautifully rendered memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, and the myth of full recovery.
For as long as author Porochista Khakpour can remember, she has been sick. For most of that time, she didn't know why. Several drug addictions, some major hospitalizations, and over $100,000 later, she finally had a diagnosis: late-stage Lyme disease.
Sick is Khakpour's grueling, emotional journey—as a woman, an Iranian-American, a writer, and a lifelong sufferer of undiagnosed health problems—in which she examines her subsequent struggles with mental illness and her addiction to doctor prescribed benzodiazepines, that both aided and eroded her ever-deteriorating physical health. Divided by settings, Khakpour guides the reader through her illness by way of the locations that changed her course—New York, LA, Santa Fe, and a college town in Germany—as she meditates on the physiological and psychological impacts of uncertainty, and the eventual challenge of accepting the diagnosis she had searched for over the course of her adult life.
A story of survival, pain, and transformation, Sick candidly examines the colossal impact of illness on one woman's life by not just highlighting the failures of a broken medical system but by also boldly challenging our concept of illness narratives.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Grounded in diverse settings and distinct phases of the author’s life, Sick is articulate and unguarded—a fearless examination of a body bent on betraying itself. Acclaimed novelist Porochista Khakpour has endured Lyme disease for years, possibly even from childhood, compounding the PTSD of her early years in war-torn Tehran. Even after her family moved to the United States, Khakpour never felt at home, even in her own skin. That ever-present anxiety pervades her compulsively readable memoir, which is not just about being unwell, but being unwell while being a woman and an Iranian-American.
Khakpour (The Last Illusion) incisively tells of living with a mystery illness that is eventually diagnosed as late-stage Lyme disease. From the time she was about five, she recalls feeling something was always "off" inside her body. From insomnia to hand tremors, her unusual symptoms were at first attributed to PTSD (Khakpour was born in Tehran in 1978; her family fled the country during revolution and settled in L.A.). Her parents believed her health would improve as she got older, but as an adult, her physical and psychiatric symptoms increased in severity and occurrence. Fainting, hallucinations, and dangerously high fevers limited her activity. With no definitive answer from the medical community, she developed an addiction to benzodiazepines for relief. Her boyfriends and colleagues function as caretakers as she moves from one healer to another (settling in rural Pennsylvania with a boyfriend, she delights that "we built a real domestic life for ourselves for the first time"). Khakpour writes honestly about her psychological struggle ("I spent most of my days feeling dead inside") enduring a disease for which she's treated, but for which there's no cure. Her remarkable story is one of perseverance, survival, and hope.