Excerpt from Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Let's Call It a Doomsday

by Katie Henry

Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie  Henry X
Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie  Henry
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2019, 400 pages
    Aug 2020, 416 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Catherine M Andronik
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Print Excerpt

"It's impressive you remember all that."

"Well, I wrote it down," I say. "I can remember anything if I write it down."

Absentmindedly, I touch the front pocket of my backpack. That's where my notebook is. Kenny #14. The first Kenny was an eggshell-blue diary from Deseret Books, a gift from my aunt on my ninth birthday. My mom suggested I name it. I chose Kenny. She hated that so much I stuck with it for thirteen more notebooks.

Martha shifts in her chair. "How much progress have you made in your workbook?"

I've made exactly no progress in Stress Free and Happy to Be Me because I buried it in my sock drawer the first day I got it.

"The workbook is one tool," she says. "It's designed to give you strategies for situations like your driving test. When you feel overwhelmed, or anxious."

Hearing that word always makes my throat tight. I'm not in denial, I know it's what I am. Martha was the first person to say it like a diagnosis, not just as an adjective. All the diplomas on Martha's office walls—Howard University, Smith College, UC Berkeley—only make it feel more official. Generalized anxiety disorder. It's not the word itself, it's what people mean when they use it.

"But maybe it's not the right tool for you," she admits. "I'd like to give you an assignment for this week."


"You've probably written down some facts about how the world could end. Or change drastically. Yes?"

I nod again.

"Have you looked up any of the times people thought the world would end, and then it didn't?"

No. Those people were wrong, whoever they were, whenever they were. Why would I care about things that didn't happen? I shake my head.

"This week, I'd like you to look up some end-of-the-world predictions that didn't come true. They can be from last year, they can be from a thousand years ago."

I can do research in my sleep. "So you want a list, or—?"

"Go deeper than that. Look at what happened to those people afterward. When the world kept going, what did they do? What changed in their lives, and what didn't? How did they move on?" She looks at her watch. "And then next session, we can talk about it. Sound good?"

If it means the workbook can stay buried in my sock drawer, it sounds great. I nod.

"Wonderful." She glances at her watch. "Our time's about up for today."

I grab my backpack. Martha opens the door for me.

"Have a good week," she says. "And try not to focus too much on the driving test, okay?"

But as I walk past the other offices and the eternally wilted potted plant at the end of the hallway, that's all I can think about. Me at the wheel of a car, and all the things that could go wrong. Martha calls this "catastrophizing."

You could hit the gas instead of the brake. You could run over a kindergarten teacher or a volunteer firefighter or the Dalai Lama.

Never mind that the Dalai Lama doesn't even live here.

What if he was giving a lecture at UC Berkeley and you murdered him, what then? It's possible. Anything terrible is possible.

When I walk into the waiting room, I expect to see the little redheaded boy who sees Martha right after me. He's usually here when I get out, destroying a Highlights magazine and demanding more Goldfish from his exhausted mom. I've taken to calling him the Red Demon.

You're a horrible person. He's a child.

He did whip a Tonka truck at my face once.

And everyone still likes him better than they like you.

But the only person in the waiting room today is a teenage girl, sitting cross-legged in one of the armless wooden chairs, her eyes closed.

I shouldn't stare. Emily Post may not have written about therapy, but some things are unspoken. You ignore the other people in the waiting room. You do not make small talk. You keep walking when a maladjusted third grader hurls a toy at you, though it is permissible to step on his bag of Goldfish in revenge.

Excerpted from Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry. Copyright © 2019 by Katie Henry. Excerpted by permission of Katherine Tegan Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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