Neel Modi

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Good idea but poor execution

While it is highly commendable that the author has taken on the subject of anxiety and depression in an honest and earnest way, Anxiety Girl leaves much to be desired from a storytelling and technical view. The novel is truly a textbook case of telling but not showing. Events are retold in the narrator’s voice, in cursory and superficial ways. Interactions between characters don’t breathe with life, wit, or very much conflict. For example, arguments between the narrator and her mother or boyfriend are introduced and quickly dismissed as “we worked it out.” This lack of gravitas is unfair to both the reader and to the characters.

For the most part, the novel reads more like a series of diary entries than a novel. Where is the prose, the poetry, the obsession with finding just the right turn of phrase or words? I did find the inclusion of song lyrics at the top of each chapter to be a good idea.

As for the mental health angle, it is truly brave to tackle these issues. It’s too bad they don’t develop past a basic understanding of cognitive behavioral therapy, where the platitudes of therapy are generic and uninspiring. I was able to find two instances of insight – “I'm too busy working on my grass to notice if anyone else's is greener” and “The only person I try to be better than is the person I was yesterday.”

On the whole, Anxiety Girl is a good idea but its execution is clumsy and not well considered.

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