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Sick: A Memoir
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Sick: A Memoir

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  404 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
In the tradition of Brain on Fire and Darkness Visible, an honest, beautifully rendered memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, and the myth of full recovery that details author Porochista Khakpour's struggles with late-stage Lyme disease.

For as long as writer Porochista Khakpour can remember, she has been sick. For most of that time, she didn't know why. All o
ebook, 272 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Harper Perennial
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Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
This might be my biggest reading disappointment of the year so far. I have been looking forward to this book for ages and when it finally arrived I jumped straight into reading it. I find the story Porochista Khakpour tells - of illness that went years without a diagnosis, about racism and sexism in medicine, about addiction and losing oneself - so very very important and relevant, but the execution just did not work for me. I found the structure of the book unhelpful, the jumping back and forth ...more
Julie Ehlers
Given that an official diagnosis doesn't come until 40 pages from the end, Sick is less a memoir about having Lyme disease than a memoir about having a mysterious illness that baffles doctors, results in a lot of inappropriate (and expensive) treatments, and is routinely viewed as purely psychological (an infuriatingly common scenario for women). For that reason alone, this book is valuable. Indeed, because of my interest in the topic, I broke my new resolution to avoid current memoirs in order ...more
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“I sometimes wonder if I would have been less sick if I had a home.”
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
I think that books about chronic illness and the experiences of women of colour accessing healthcare are essential, but I did not like this book. Here’s the thing. I think that explorations of trauma and illness, of gender and illness, of race and illness, are all so important. I think exploring women’s illness, and illnesses such as Lyme, and calling out how they are often characterized as psychiatric is needed. I think that avoiding narratives of sick then well, of triumph over what is in fact ...more
A finely wrought memoir of Khakpour’s battle with Lyme disease and, more broadly, how the early trauma and displacement of her childhood intertwines and muddies the challenge of “putting a name” to the cause of her symptoms. A personal fascination, for me, was the revelation that Khakpour and I are almost exactly the same age - she has lived so much more life than I have that I would have referred her to as one of the “older girls” had we been at the same school. Beautiful writing from the sente ...more
Marcy Dermansky
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have fascinated with Porochista Khakpour for years. It was so wonderful to actually meet the real Porochista in real life and sort of fall in love with the actual person. Reading her memoir, SICK, was a fascinating entry into the actual life woman behind the tweets -- so much of the stories in this book was already familiar in a strange way -- and FB posts and the essays and novels. It felt almost like a privilege, to read her actual story.

I am in awe of how honest this book is. And well craf
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I think I went in expecting too much. Khakpour is at her best when she describes the indifference of doctors, her struggles and confusion regarding Lyme and seeing how cities and lovers correspond to her illness.

At several times, I felt the prose could have been tightened. It was often descriptive where it could have been insightful. Khakpour notes in her acknowledgements that she stripped the book of everything else but her ego. When I think of Meghan Rourke's The Long Goodbye, I think perhaps
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult, frustrating read -- an an immensely brave one. I applaud Porochista's honesty and openness about her battle with Lyme disease and the horrific chain of events that has followed the onset of her illness. It is infuriating, but sadly not surprising, to see all of the ways she has been mistreated and misdiagnosed by the myriad medical professionals she has seen throughout her life. For anyone who struggles with constant, undiagnosed pain, for anyone who doesn't understand what ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I do not have cohesive thoughts about this book. I cannot, and I may never. I can't decide if I want to give it 4 or 5 stars, or whether I loved it or hated it or thought it was good or bad writing or why I consistently want to treat life in binary or why any of this matters in the end.

I know two things:
1. I could not read this for more than small stretches at a time. Once, it sent me into a hot and prickly panic attack, after which I fell asleep and dreamt half-concocted nightmares of relapse.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting and thoughtful, but the random arrangement of essays didn't work for me. I needed a bit more linear structure--I kept trying to figure out where we were in time and if she knew yet that she had Lyme disease. But I find medical memoirs fascinating, and she did an astonishing job at how she was treated by health practitioners who didn't know what to do with her or even didn't believe that Lyme disease exists.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
A hot mess of cluster-b melodrama and pseudoscientific word salad.

(Read Lying: a metaphorical memoir by Lauren Slater instead.)
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Iranian American novelist Khakpour describes in excruciating detail her fight against an unknown disease, which turned out to be late stage Lyme disease. Much of her battle was in getting the correct diagnoses and disregarding the Dr's who told her that her pain was psychological. For readers who enjoyed "Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved" by Kate Bowler.

I read an advance copy and was not compensated.
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
all the people who had petty, bad reviews are crazy. this is a well-written and really interesting memoir about being chronically ill and navigating the unknowns of that illness. furthermore, it's hard to write about chronic illness, especially when you're actually suffering from it, so to do all that while being sick is impressive. i thought it was stylistically written well and different segments that didn't seem to be related were strung together nicely in the end. you don't need to like some ...more
ReemK10 (Paper Pills)
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found Porochista's memoir very hard to put down! I follow her on Twitter, and feel like I've sat with her during her lyme treatments, traveled with her to her writing workshops, waited with her at the airport as she made her way with her disability.... I felt very vested in her health, her writing career, her friendships etc. Porochista is precious! She is kind, caring and has the ability to attract people with her personality. This is not a woman whom you feel sorry for. This is a woman whom ...more
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Theories that diseases are caused by mental states and can be cured by will power are always an index of how much is not understood about the physical terrain of a disease."
~Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors

First of all thank you Harper Perennial for sending me this Arc. I am a big fan of Memoirs so I was really excited to read this one.
A journey of illness that reads more like a detective novel.
Porochista has late-stage lyme disease, but it took years for her to ge
Grace Sutherlin
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
As a woman who suffers from four chronic illnesses I was most interested in reading this book as I wanted to see how another woman approached coping with chronic illness and the revolving door of medical specialists involved in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illness. I have my own chronic illness manuscript and when I saw that a writer actually landed a literary agent for this kind of book and an acquiring publisher, I was simply astounded. (By the way, as far as I know I do not have Lym ...more
Porochista Khakpour felt a little (or even a lot) off in her body for most of her life - there were aching, dizzy spells, and all kinds of diffuse symptoms. Her memoir "Sick" chronicles her life as being a sick person without a diagnosis. Only quite late doctors finally could put their finger onto the problem: Khakpour has got late stage Lyme disease. The book is not about a straightforward quest to health or at least an answer to the question of what is wrong. Instead, the book meanders, jumps ...more
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: chronically ill women, people who liked prozac nation, empathetic people
"I liked that there was danger involved with me, that I was someone people could lose, that I could flirt with some other realm, that I was intensely fragile yet ultimately indestructible. I felt like a crystal ballerina, a porcelain swan, but most of all like a ghost."

this is a very particular kind of book. you're either going to understand it or you won't. that is no fault of your own, it is based on experience.
this is the rawest, realest illness memoir i have read to date -- and anyone who
I have mixed feelings about this book.

Porochista Khakpour gives us a very brave and honest memoir about her struggles with late-stage Lyme disease. The CDC estimates that 30,000 cases occur every year, though the actual number is probably much higher. It is caused by bacteria spread through tick bites, and getting a diagnosis can a nightmare due to the generality of its symptoms (fever, rash, headache, shortness of breath). People who have been infected with Lyme disease can also be asymptomati
Jun 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2018
Khakpour writes beautifully about her years of sickness, trying to find a reason for her never ending illness, trying to find doctors who will help her. Her despair at not getting any clear answers, being told it's all in her head, and at one point even sent to a psych ward, are palpable and I could feel it as I read her words.
It was hard, though, to get a grasp on who she is as a person. The non-linear essays made it difficult at times to keep track of where exactly we were at in her life. Her
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Chronic illness is one thing, chronic illness without the "safety" of having a diagnosis is another. It's a distinction I would not have considered before reading Khakpour's memoir. Her life feels like a mystery, attempting to discover the culprit making her sick - it feels frustrating and exhausting reading her account - I can't imagine being in her shoes. The writing, teaching, and fellowships she's managed throughout the years are amazing given her condition. Definitely an interesting read.
Amy M
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
while kind of interesting, it was self-indulgant and too focused on how 'odd' the author is. Its not really a story about Lyme, or even being sick really. I didn't feel the author showed how she was odd, she just kept saying it. I got pretty bored reading how weird she felt, but how normal she seemed.
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thank you to the publisher (via Edelweiss) for a free advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a well-done memoir of one person's experience with chronic illness. Porochista Khakpour's experience with the medical profession and the long journey to diagnosis and correct treatment. Khakpour is honest in this book about her experiences with drugs, abusive relationships, mental health and other struggles that she had alongside her chronic illness. It's frightening to think how comm
Leah Angstman
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
My review of this book is coming to a major outlet. Will update at that time.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Porochista Khakpour has always been sick. But why?

Her story will be familiar to anyone who knows the standard Lyme narrative: years of mysterious ailments, frequent diagnoses of mental health problems, the treatment of which only made her problems worse, the growing worry that she was either crazy or dying or both, the elation at having a diagnosis of Lyme disease, the struggle to actually find a treatment that would work, the relapses, and so on and so forth.

There are a couple of things that ma
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was engrossing, but also didn't leave a strong impression. For a memoir about illness, it was surprisingly propulsive, and only occasionally wallowed in 'woe is me' territory. But the timeline was a little confusing, it jumped around a lot, which I couldn't always follow.

The writing was clean and to the point. The pace was quick and never stayed in one place too long. It was never boring, and was populated with interesting, tragic characters.

I wonder a
I'm really fascinated with the mystery that courses through every part of this book. Lyme disease being the big one, as an illness that is hard to diagnose and treat. This is not an illness memoir with a neatly packaged ending. Porochista Khakpour's journey to a diagnosis is a long one, and even when she finally gets the Lyme results, there's no concensus from doctors on when she got it. There's no specific formula, through medicine or lifestyle, that ensures good health periods - it's seemingly ...more
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I expected to love this--it would be more accurate to say that I fully intended to love this--and then I didn't. One reason is that there are relatively few fully developed scenes incorporating the elements we expect from well executed narrative: realistic dialogue, character development, attention to detail, blah blah blah. Instead, we get SO MUCH SUMMARY. PAGES AND PAGES OF SUMMARY--of recreational drugs taken; of love affairs with men (even though there's a throw-away comment at the end about ...more
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

It very much feels like a diary, the intimacy of which I can appreciate, but I also felt impatient with much of the book. There's lots of telling instead of showing, especially about anything not related to her illness, and the writing is not particularly literary. (Woe to anyone who has to follow up Edith Wharton, ugh.) And especially because I knew what Khakpour's ultimate diagnosis was, the repeated mentions of just how far the ultimate diagnosis was from her mind through the years
Sarah Swong
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
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Porochista Khakpour is the author of the memoir Sick (Harper Perennial, June 2018)—a “Most Anticipated Book of 2018,” according to HuffPost, Bustle, Bitch, Nylon, Volume1 Brooklyn, The Rumpus, and more. She also authored the novels The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury, 2014)—a 2014 "Best Book of the Year" according to NPR, Kirkus, Buzzfeed, Popmatters, Electric Literature, and more — and Sons and Other F ...more
More about Porochista Khakpour

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