Sunday, October 23, 2022

Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom by Sara Benincasa


AGORAFABULOUS! is one of those books where after I finished it, I'm like, "Did I really enjoy reading this?" because even though it was rip-roaringly funny in parts, it could also be surprisingly brutal. The two toughest scenes involve her recollections of the violent (self-inflicted) death of one of her classmates and a description of severe anxiety, agoraphobia, and depression-- which had escalated to the point that she was peeing in bowls to avoid leaving her bedroom and had mostly stopped eating.

Despite these triggers, though, AGORAFABULOUS! was a very endearing, if uneven, memoir. There were parts that were so funny, like her stint working as a teacher with at-risk kids, which kind of came across as a less pedantic version of Dangerous Minds. The story about Billy made me laugh hysterically. I also liked her writing about her trip to Planned Parenthood, her response to the jerk protestors stationed there to heckle women, and the fact that PP apparently has escorts to walk women up to the clinic through the protestors while distracting them. Oh my God, how wholesome.

I've been following Sara Benincasa for a while. She's one of those women who's kind of famous for her online work doing commentary and interviews, like Lindsey Ellis or Anita Sarkessian. I think I first remember seeing her as a guest star on College Humor's Bleep Bloop segments way back in the early 2010s, and she had an appearance on BuzzFeed as well. Mostly these days I follow her on Twitter, because she's really funny (her thread about the fates of '80s and '90s children's book protagonists was nothing short of brilliant), and I was curious to see what her experiences with psychological disorders was like, as someone who, you know, has mental health issues herself.

Overall, this was a pretty great read. I found it incredibly validating and I wish I'd had a copy when I was feeling at my worst in the late aughts/early 2010s. Knowing you're not alone is such an integral part of healing and recovery, so I'm so glad that she put this book out there in the world.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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