Today, Hartford Books Examiner and William Morrow Books will be offering a signed copy of Sara Benincasa’s Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom to one lucky reader. For your chance to win, simply email HBE at HartfordBooksExaminer@aol.com by Sunday, February 19th, at 11:59 PM EST. Please include “giveaway” in the subject line.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner reviews Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom (William Morrow, $24.95) by Sara Benincasa.
Released on Tuesday, Agorafabulous! is the first book by award-winning comedian, blogger, writer and podcast host Benincasa, who also travels the country discussing mental illness and women’s issues. Her memoir draws on those same topics.
As the book opens, Benincasa recounts a class trip to Sicily gone wrong. As the popular girls prepare to break out their bikinis and hit the beach, Benincasa finds herself in the midst of a full-on panic attack in a gas station bathroom. Consequently, fun in the sun takes a backseat to an emergency visit to the local hospital. Fortunately, the sheer humiliation of the situation is largely negated by the drugs the doctor prescribes…
What follows is a painfully candid (but entirely amusing) account of the author’s lifelong struggle with agoraphobia and depression. In college, Benincasa develops a fear of leaving her room, and so she doesn’t – even to use the bathroom. After moving back into her parents’ home, she adapts a sleep schedule that allows her to avoid nearly all socialization. Then, there’s her reentry into the working world via an unusual apprenticeship with a spiritual guru in need of a reality check. And her short stint as a teacher, where’s she’s exposed to some hard truths about adolescent boys. (Read the book and you’ll understand…)
Each experience, no matter how embarrassing, presents an opportunity for Benincasa to take ownership of her life, and she eventually finds the fortitude to do so. This newfound sense of self-empowerment spurs Benincasa to take risks – including applying to Columbia University despite her then-boyfriend’s skepticism and embracing stand-up comedy despite its innate challenges – that would otherwise have gone unexplored. Instead, they mark the beginning of a new journey.
Agorafabulous! is often poignant and always funny, and Benincasa is living proof that laughter – OK, laughter coupled with therapy and a few pills – is truly the best medicine. Her matter-of-fact, unselfconscious delivery allows readers to be entertained without having to feel guilty about it; further, it may just inspire them to make a few changes of their own. Ultimately, Benincasa’s is a story of triumph over adversity, and you’ll be better for having read it…
With thanks to Kimberly Chocolaad of William Morrow/HarperCollins for providing review and giveaway copies of Agorafabulous!