Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher
Star rating: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars
Summary: Actress Suzanne Vale finds herself in a drug rehab center after getting her stomach pumped and almost ODing. The book follows her recovery and trying to cope with her mental illness without using drugs as her coping mechanism.
Reasons for picking this book: The new Star Wars movie reminded me of how much I love Carrie Fisher. Leading up to the movie’s release I read and watched every clip with her in it. I never did much reading about her personal life before so I was pleased to see how openly she spoke about her bipolar disorder and mental illness in general. It’s such a stigma to even talk about but she gave me courage to start to be more open and honest with others about my own depression and anxiety disorder. In the course of reading about her I discovered that she wrote three novels. I really was interested by her first novel because of it handling mental illness and being semi-biographical. The fact that it takes place in California, my home state made it fit in the challenge perfectly.
Review: This novel was a lot different than most the things I’ve read. The style was unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. The first part of the book is told using journal entries from Suzanne and stream of consciousness from Alex. The second part is strictly dialog and it never explicitly says who is saying what, you have to do some sleuthing yourself. Then the rest of the novel is third person narrative following Suzanne. The changes in style didn’t feel too jarring as a reader, it took a little adjusting but overall I thought it worked.
I ended up taking so many pictures of quotes from this book because so many times what Fisher wrote about dealing with mental illness and how she described it really resonated with me. It was really witty and funny too.
There were two reasons I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to enjoy reading this book. One, was handling mental illness, the only other book I’ve read that touched on that was The Bell Jar and I don’t think I’ll ever be in a stable enough place to ever finish that book. This book however while it was honest it was also trying to be hopeful, trying to make the best out of a shitty situation. It was a lot lighter than I thought it would be. Honestly I was so relieved, because I want to read things about mental illness but I don’t want to end up feeling like shit in the process. The second reason I wasn’t sure I’d connect with the character Suzanne because of the drugs, I’ve never done drugs nor seen the appeal of them. I was nervous that would make me feel like I couldn’t connect with the character. But I found I really connected with Suzanne, her dark self-deprecating humor that she uses as a defense, her inability to give up drinking caffeinated sodas no matter what she tries, and a lot of her outlooks on life in general.
I was afraid in the beginning of the book that Alex would end up being more prominent in the story and I was glad he wasn’t. He was gross and one of those douchebags that think they’re gods gift to earth. I don’t mind asshole characters that acknowledge they are assholes, it’s the ones that lie to themselves that bug me. Alex had Nice Guy syndrome and if this was written now he would be a brony.
I liked Suzanne’s relationship with her friend Lucy. I thought it was one of the more realistic friendships I’ve read about. Just how they talked to each other made me think of some of my friendships.
It was a good book and I look forward to reading more of Fisher’s novels.
Recommendation: I think this is a good book for people with mental illness or people that want to see what it’s like in someone’s mind when they have mental illness. It’s not a depressing story so it’s not liable to make you feel worse but more point and say “Exactly, thank you”.
Up next: Goddess of Spring – a book recommended to me by someone I just met.