Girl in the Dark is an incredibly unique memoir that took me totally by surprise and made my jaw drop just the slightest bit as I read.
Anna Lyndsey, a real human woman living in England (but writing under a pseudonym), cannot be exposed to light. Any light. Any light, not just that can be seen by the human eye, but any light at all. Her skin burns, and the pain she experiences is paralyzing.
She has essentially been kidnapped by her own body’s condition, and she lives exiled from the world in a light-proof room in her own home.
Now, I was “benched” (as I like to call it) by my doctors this summer when I had a broken heel (sidenote: I don’t like to say “I broke my heel” because that was actually the accomplishment of the asshole who hit me with his car… thanks, guy!). I have a very active job, so I wasn’t allowed to return until I was past the point of risk of reinjury, which was much longer than for, say, someone who works at a desk. And what I realized is that there are too many hours in the day when you can’t do a damn thing.
And then I read Girl in the Dark and my pity party was OVER, because here is a brilliant woman with an exceptional mind, and a whole bunch of fascinating and accomplished skillsets: she is an accomplished pianist and composer, a solid home cook, and her career before her condition took over involved city infrastructure… she’s a smarty smart smart who had everything going for her. And then her body kidnapped her and shoved her into a small bedroom, and she has had to sit in the dark and find ways not to go crazy.
She is thoughtful, and strong, and never gives up on helping herself. Her progress back to healthfulness is slow, and I imagine that it’s not yet over. And the memoir is the story of someone who kicks ass at filling time, learns to fight for herself, and comes to terms with a total lack of control. It’s structured very well, and compelling, but a little bit over-written. But most of it was dictated, because computer screens are such a challenge for her, so I forgive her if the style isn’t perfectly tidy.
An example that I flagged: “But after a couple of days, my mental paralysis starts to abate. Stuck cogs shift, small flickerings of electric pulses dart across neural circuits. Avenues that might be worth exploring occur to me; an occasional sentence for a possible letter drafts itself randomly in my head.”
You know what I mean?
I will say that I felt like I was missing certain details. For example, she apologizes for being so crude as to try to explain how she and her then-boyfriend-now-husband navigate sex. But I have so many questions about pooping, and peeing, and bathing! But I guess some people’s boundaries are different from mine.