THERE WILL BE LOBSTER

The author opens her memoir in New York City in 2015 with an account of waking up horribly hungover and miserable the day after a New Year’s Eve party, with a black eye and blistered skin.She then details what drove her to that state and how she began to doubt her own value as her ad agency business eroded and she dealt with her children leaving home: “I was jobless, directionless, divorced, single, middle-aged, and the last of my three children had recently moved out for college.” Readers see her interactions with others who witnessed her downfall; one acquaintance commented, “My, how the mighty have fallen,” and she recounts how that phrase began to weigh heavily on her. However, she also points out the positive impact of having a support system when one is at their lowest point. In her case, that system consisted of her children, and she reveals how, even as they helped her, she felt guilt about depending on them. The author’s story of her downward spiral and her unwillingness to sugarcoat her feelings for readers make for a difficult read. However, many readers, and especially those who’ve experienced depression, will find that it hits home. Spirituality plays a big role in Arnell’s approach to healing; at a key point in her life, she met two sister missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and she notes her ensuing feeling that she should go to church: “Maybe Jesus will save me. Someone has to, for fuck’s sake.” Many other crisis memoirs focus on how their subjects took control and reshaped their lives, but Arnell’s unusually concentrates on the concept of being saved by others. Although her approach to healing isn’t straightforward, readers are able to see Arnell’s habit-building process, which leaves one with a sense of hope for her eventual healing. Over the course of this memoir, her honesty allows readers to acknowledge that growth is not linear—and that’s OK.

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