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Book Review: ‘The Existence Of Amy’ by Lana Grace Riva

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Lana Grace Riva’s fantastic novel, ‘The Existence Of Amy’. Lana kindly got in touch with me and asked if she could send me a free copy in return for a review on my blog. This book is different to my usual type of read – but I absolutely loved it! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…

Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead.

A fictional story that depicts the reality of mental illness behind a perception of normality.

‘The Existence Of Amy’ (July 2019) is Lana Grace Riva’s second novel, following on from ‘Happier Thinking’ (December 2017). ‘Happier Thinking’ is a non-fiction novel, whereas ‘The Existence Of Amy’ is a fictional story, both based on her experiences of mental health.

‘The Existence Of Amy’ follows the life of Amy, who suffers with OCD, anxiety and depression. Although she has a good job and home, her friends and family know little about the reality of her internal struggles.

The narrative is told from the first-person perspective of Amy throughout. The reader is given an in-depth perspective to her thoughts, feelings and emotions, as she struggles with her inner demons. The story is told in the present day, with some allusions to the past. Overall, the narrative is really easy to follow, yet still very effective.

Obviously my favourite character in the novel is Amy. Amy is a lovely, kind and caring young woman. She has a good job and gets on well with her colleagues, and she is very good at what she does. However, she struggles hugely with various mental health issues, including OCD, anxiety and depression. When one of her colleagues announces he is moving away, Amy falls into a deep, dark depression; and her life begins to spiral out of control. Amy is such a great person but she is overwhelmed by her own mind and illnesses. I really related to Amy in many ways, and felt a great deal of sympathy towards her throughout the novel. She is a fantastically-written character – I wish I could be friends with her in real life!

** TRIGGER WARNING ** As already mentioned, this novel is a deep exploration of mental illness; specifically OCD, anxiety and depression. The reader is given an in-depth insight to the protagonist’s mind, as she struggles to control her all-encompassing negative thoughts. This issue is explored with appropriate sensitivity – but if you feel that it may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.

As the narrative motors onwards, Amy gets more and more ill, and is unable to pull herself out of the deep depression she is experiencing. She must find the inner strength to beat her illness and return back to normality. Will she ever be able to lead a truly normal life?

So, let’s talk about the ending. There’s no dramatic end scene jam-packed full of action; instead, a rather peaceful resolution occurs. Tensions reach their peak and it seems as if Amy’s life will be utterly hopeless. Although the ending is left ambiguous, there is a real sense of hope illustrated. I really appreciated the ending, and felt that it tied everything together brilliant.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy reading books about mental health. I absolutely adored this book, and thought that Amy was such a well-written character. I was hooked throughout this book, and felt so many different emotions whilst reading! This book gets a huge 5 stars from me – I simply couldn’t fault it. It’s going straight on my favourites bookshelf!

Happy reading πŸ™‚

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