Rat Girl By Kristin Hersh (5 out of 5)
I didn’t walk, or rather, amble into this expecting that it was going to be as singularly awesome as Girl, Interrupted or Prozac Nation, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is an older book, but one I’ve had since buying it at the store in February, 2011. I kept picking it up and it wasn’t the right time. Well, since my day-by-day disposition depends wildly on how my father is doing that day, it seemed like a great time to read a book about someone who was see-sawing her way through life for many years, unsure what the problem was. The problem was bipolar disorder. Throw in a sudden, unexpected pregnancy and it gets hairy real quick.
PS- To the idiot on Amazon who calls it a novel- idiot- it says MEMOIR on the cover. That means it’s TRUE. Maybe you should check out the dictionary definition on Merriam-Webster and maybe your expectations wouldn’t be so down.
See what I mean about the mood swings? Anyway, back to the greatness of this book.
Kristin Hersh, a teen at the beginning of the book, is raised in a free-wheeling environment by her parents, who happen to be liberal hippies. She’s got a little band called Throwing Muses, and they’ve been signed to a record label. Life is looking pretty fantastic, but Kristin, no matter what she does, can’t shake the black cloud of funk surrounding her. Her only salvation are those song lyrics and chords that keep rolling around in her head. You garner a huge appreciation for how that music, again and again, saves her from going over to the dark side. There are dark moments here, you know there will be, with a memoir about being bipolar. However, there are many light moments, and there is a real honesty she has, that reminded me of Kaysen and Wurtzel(the fine ladies who wrote Girl and Prozac). There’s no high school writing here(although it’s formatted as entries coming from her diary, the unique format in which she writes this book, you would not know if the back cover didn’t tell you so)- no excuses, only the thoughts of someone trying to figure out what the hell is wrong and how to fix it. Once they figure out a diagnosis, Kristin finds out she’s pregnant. To say that changes her life is like saying that the Johnny Rotten is opinionated. If you are looking for a book about Throwing Muses, they are a huge part of the story, meaning having that outlet for her music likely saved her life and her sanity(you have to derive your own conclusions from the book, but it’s pretty obvious). It’s not a band bio, however, it’s just Kristin. That said, it’s a fantastic book and if you didn’t like or have any measure of respect for her before this, I guarantee you will after finishing this book.