Summary and book reviews of Sick by Porochista Khakpour

Sick

A Memoir

by Porochista Khakpour

Sick by Porochista Khakpour X
Sick by Porochista Khakpour
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jun 2018, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A powerful, beautifully rendered memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, and the myth of full recovery.

For as long as author Porochista Khakpour can remember, she has been sick. For most of that time, she didn't know why. Several drug addictions, some major hospitalizations, and over $100,000 later, she finally had a diagnosis: late-stage Lyme disease. 

Sick is Khakpour's grueling, emotional journey - as a woman, an Iranian-American, a writer, and a lifelong sufferer of undiagnosed health problems - in which she examines her subsequent struggles with mental illness and her addiction to doctor prescribed benzodiazepines, that both aided and eroded her ever-deteriorating physical health. Divided by settings, Khakpour guides the reader through her illness by way of the locations that changed her course - New York, LA, Santa Fe, and a college town in Germany - as she meditates on the physiological and psychological impacts of uncertainty, and the eventual challenge of accepting the diagnosis she had searched for over the course of her adult life. 

A story of survival, pain, and transformation, Sick candidly examines the colossal impact of illness on one woman's life by not just highlighting the failures of a broken medical system but by also boldly challenging our concept of illness narratives.

Paperback Original

ON THE WRONG BODY

I have never been comfortable in my own body. Rather, I've felt my whole life that I was born in the wrong body. A slight woman, femme in appearance, olive skin that has varied from dark to light, thick black curly hair, large eyes, hands and feet too big, of somewhat more than average height and somewhat less than average weight—I've tried my whole life to understand what it is that seems off to me. It's deeper than gender and sexuality, more complicated than just surface appearances. Sometimes the dysmorphia I experience in my body feels purely psychological and other times it feels like something weirder. As a child, I thought of myself as a ghost, an essence at best who'd entered some incorrect form. As I grew older, I accepted it as "otherness," a feature of Americanness even. But every room I walk into I still quickly assign myself to outsider status, though it seems not everyone can see this. Many have in fact called my looks ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Khakpour's story is a powerful one of being mired in sickness and not getting the necessary help from medical professionals. Doctors insisted her problems were psychological; one even recommended that she check into a psych ward. It's also clear just how time-consuming and expensive being a chronic patient can be. There is, unfortunately, some inherent repetition in a book of this nature. At times it feels like an endless cycle of doctors, appointments, and treatment strategies ranging from a paleo diet and alternative medicines to benzodiazepines, drugs used to treat anxiety. The details of her many jobs and relationships can blend into one. However, the overall arc of struggling with one's body and coming to terms with limitations will resonate widely.   (Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).

Full Review Members Only (803 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Khakpour writes honestly about her psychological struggle...enduring a disease for which she's treated, but for which there's no cure. Her remarkable story is one of perseverance, survival, and hope.

Library Journal
A sometimes challenging memoir of feeling out of place, both inside and outside of one's own body; yet Khakpour brings a fresh perspective on how women live and cope with mental and chronic illness.

Kirkus Reviews
A courageously intimate memoir about living within a body that has 'never felt at ease.'

Author Blurb Cheryl Strayed, New York Times bestselling author of Wild
Porochista Khakpour's powerful memoir, Sick, reads like a mystery and a reckoning with a love song at its core.

Author Blurb Patricia Lockwood, author of Priestdaddy, named one of the 10 best books of 2017 by the New York Times
Survival, she reminds us at the end of Sick, can be an act of the imagination: it is the courage to insist on seeing yourself decades in the future, climbing a mountain, squinting into the sun, sitting down at the desk to write what happened.

Author Blurb Kiese Laymon author of Heavy
Somehow, Khakpour manages to craft the minutiae of the moments spent keeping herself alive while obliterating what could have easily been written as spectacular melodrama. I'm most amazed at how time itself, and point of view, are 'sick' and 'sickening' in this wonderful memoir. Khakpour has done more than something I've never seen before in this phenomenal book; she's done something I never imagined possible.

Author Blurb Susannah Cahalan, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Brain on Fire
I'm so excited for the world (you!) to read Porochista Khakpour's Sick because now you'll understand. Understand what it's like to navigate a broken medical system; understand what chronic illness does to the self; understand the damage that doubt and ignorance can wreck; understand how living and self-destructing, writing and working, loving and sex doesn't just stop when you're ill...Thank you, thank you, thank you, Porochista for giving so much of yourself in this miraculous memoir.

Author Blurb Kathleen Hanna
Thank you, Porochista Khakpour, for writing an unflinchingly honest, complicated memoir about living life with Lyme. Sick should be required reading at every medical school!

Author Blurb Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel
Sick is a riveting plunge into the most profound mysteries of mind and body - the haunted labyrinths of addiction; a chronic illness that mightily resists answers...Miraculously, Sick emerges as a force of life.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Chronic Lyme Disease

Porochista Khakpour's Sick is a memoir of living with chronic Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection, specifically a bite from a tick bearing the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. B. burgdorferi is one of just a few spirochetes, or 'spiral-shaped' bacteria, to be identified to date. (The pathogen that causes syphilis is another.) In the USA, the hot spots are the Northeast (from Maine to Virginia), the West coast, and Wisconsin and Minnesota. In these areas, hiking, gardening, and walking a dog through tall grass are considered particularly risky activities. Lyme disease also occurs in Europe and Asia.

The telltale bulls-eye rash that might foretell Lyme Tick bites often result in a noticeable bull's-eye rash, but not always. The rash is not necessarily ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Sick, try these:

  • Being Mortal jacket

    Being Mortal

    by Atul Gawande

    Published 2017

    About this book

    More books by this author

    In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending

  • The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating jacket

    The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

    by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

    Published 2016

    About this book

    In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, Elisabeth Bailey shares an inspiring and intimate story of her uncommon encounter with a Neohelix albolabris —a common woodland snail.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...
  • Book Jacket: A Spark of Light
    A Spark of Light
    by Jodi Picoult
    The central premise of A Spark of Light involves a gunman holding hostages within the confines of a ...
  • Book Jacket: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    by Hank Green
    As one half of the extremely popular YouTube duo "Vlogbrothers" (the other half being his brother ...
  • Book Jacket: Waiting for Eden
    Waiting for Eden
    by Elliot Ackerman
    Elliot Ackerman's latest novel, Waiting for Eden, follows Marine Eden Malcom as his death ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Paris Echo
    by Sebastian Faulks

    A story of resistance, complicity, and an unlikely, transformative friendship.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.