Sick by Porochista Khakpour


In the tradition of Brain on Fire and Darkness Visible, an honest, beautifully rendered memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, and the myth of full recovery that details author Porochista Khakpour's struggles with late-stage Lyme disease.For as long as writer Porochista Khakpour can remember, she has been sick. For most of that time, she didn't know why. All of her trips to the ER and her daily anguish, pain, and lethargy only ever r...

Details Sick

Release DateJun 5th, 2018
PublisherHarper Perennial
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Health, Disability, Medical, Biography

Reviews Sick

  • Hannah
    This might be my biggest reading disappointment of the year so far. I have been looking forward to this book for ages and when it finally arrived I jumped straight into reading it. I find the story Porochista Khakpour tells - of illness that went years without a diagnosis, about racism and sexism in medicine, about addiction and losing oneself - so very very important and relevant, but the execution just did not work for me. I found the structure...
  • Julie Ehlers
    Given that an official diagnosis doesn't come until 40 pages from the end, Sick is less a memoir about having Lyme disease than a memoir about having a mysterious illness that baffles doctors, results in a lot of inappropriate (and expensive) treatments, and is routinely viewed as purely psychological (an infuriatingly common scenario for women). For that reason alone, this book is valuable. Indeed, because of my interest in the topic, I broke my...
  • Jessie
    I think that books about chronic illness and the experiences of women of colour accessing healthcare are essential, but I did not like this book. Here’s the thing. I think that explorations of trauma and illness, of gender and illness, of race and illness, are all so important. I think exploring women’s illness, and illnesses such as Lyme, and calling out how they are often characterized as psychiatric is needed. I think that avoiding narrati...
  • Susannah
    “I sometimes wonder if I would have been less sick if I had a home.”
  • Canadian Reader
    ”the deal with so many chronic illnesses is that most people don’t want to believe you. They will tell you that you look great, that it might be in your head, that it is likely stress, that everything will be okay. None of these are the right thing to say to someone whose entire existence is a fairly consistent torture of the body and mind. They say it because they are well-intentioned usually, because they wish you the best, but they also sa...
  • Kerry
    A hot mess of cluster-b melodrama and pseudoscientific word salad.(Read Lying: a metaphorical memoir by Lauren Slater instead.)
  • Melissa
    A finely wrought memoir of Khakpour’s battle with Lyme disease and, more broadly, how the early trauma and displacement of her childhood intertwines and muddies the challenge of “putting a name” to the cause of her symptoms. A personal fascination, for me, was the revelation that Khakpour and I are almost exactly the same age - she has lived so much more life than I have that I would have referred her to as one of the “older girls” had ...
  • Marcy Dermansky
    I have fascinated with Porochista Khakpour for years. It was so wonderful to actually meet the real Porochista in real life and sort of fall in love with the actual person. Reading her memoir, SICK, was a fascinating entry into the actual life woman behind the tweets -- so much of the stories in this book was already familiar in a strange way -- and FB posts and the essays and novels. It felt almost like a privilege, to read her actual story. I a...
  • Madeleine
    I do not have cohesive thoughts about this book. I cannot, and I may never. I can't decide if I want to give it 4 or 5 stars, or whether I loved it or hated it or thought it was good or bad writing or why I consistently want to treat life in binary or why any of this matters in the end.I know two things:1. I could not read this for more than small stretches at a time. Once, it sent me into a hot and prickly panic attack, after which I fell asleep...
  • Barbara (The Bibliophage)
    Excerpt from review posted on my book blog, Khakpour spends much of this book talking about relationships. Sometimes it’s her parents or girlfriends. But more often it’s the men in her life. I’ve seen reviewers bemoan this. But here’s what I think. A single young woman, battling chronic, mostly unexplained, illness has a natural need for caregivers. As much as Khakpour these are romantic relationships, her wr...
  • Rebecca Foster
    Porochista Khakpour can’t remember a time when she didn’t feel unwell and like she wanted to escape. “I had no idea what normal was. I never felt good,” she writes in her bracing memoir. Related to this sense of not being at home in her body was the feeling of not having a place where she fit in. Throughout Sick, Khakpour gives excellent descriptions of physical and mental symptoms. Her story is a powerful one of being mired in sickness a...
  • Maura Muller
    I was really looking forward to this book. My husband battled late stage Lyme for 5 years and I had it for one and a half agonizing years. Most everyone I know (I live in a rural, Upstate, NY) has had it.I think it is crucial to share the difficulties and problems in getting treated for such a mysterious disease - especially for women. I was told it was "only menopause". Women's health issues have been dismissed for ages, so I really wanted to lo...
  • Sarah Lumos
    2.5/5 stars I feel bad for not liking this book. However, like others have said, although this book’s content is important, the execution was poor. At first, I was excited to read this because when I saw the cover, I saw a part of myself. As an Asian woman who copes with a chronic illness, I felt connected to Khakpour even before reading her memoir. I learned about Lyme disease through Avril Lavigne; she was diagnosed with it a few years ago. I...
  • Komal
    I think I went in expecting too much. Khakpour is at her best when she describes the indifference of doctors, her struggles and confusion regarding Lyme and seeing how cities and lovers correspond to her illness. At several times, I felt the prose could have been tightened. It was often descriptive where it could have been insightful. Khakpour notes in her acknowledgements that she stripped the book of everything else but her ego. When I think of...
  • Katharine
    For obvious reasons, I tend to be drawn toward books about people living with chronic illness—particularly women. I was especially eager to read Sick, Khakpour's memoir, because I know a number of people affected by Lyme disease. Khakpour's story is a difficult one, full of not just a lifetime of illness, but a lifetime of struggle. At times I had to put it down and step away -- it can be difficult to read someone's story of illness when you li...
  • Jaclyn Crupi
    My takeaway from this chaotic memoir is that Lyme disease is terrfiying (thanks for checking me for ticks at the Cape @cassadycadillac) and the American health system is brutal. My other takeaway is perhaps the jumpy approach is not the right one for a memoir of this kind.
  • Emily
    This is a difficult, frustrating read -- an an immensely brave one. I applaud Porochista's honesty and openness about her battle with Lyme disease and the horrific chain of events that has followed the onset of her illness. It is infuriating, but sadly not surprising, to see all of the ways she has been mistreated and misdiagnosed by the myriad medical professionals she has seen throughout her life. For anyone who struggles with constant, undiagn...
  • Bekki
    all the people who had petty, bad reviews are crazy. this is a well-written and really interesting memoir about being chronically ill and navigating the unknowns of that illness. furthermore, it's hard to write about chronic illness, especially when you're actually suffering from it, so to do all that while being sick is impressive. i thought it was stylistically written well and different segments that didn't seem to be related were strung toget...
  • Grace Sutherlin
    As a woman who suffers from four chronic illnesses I was most interested in reading this book as I wanted to see how another woman approached coping with chronic illness and the revolving door of medical specialists involved in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illness. I have my own chronic illness manuscript and when I saw that a writer actually landed a literary agent for this kind of book and an acquiring publisher, I was simply astounde...
  • Tracy
    Interesting and thoughtful, but the random arrangement of essays didn't work for me. I needed a bit more linear structure--I kept trying to figure out where we were in time and if she knew yet that she had Lyme disease. But I find medical memoirs fascinating, and she did an astonishing job at how she was treated by health practitioners who didn't know what to do with her or even didn't believe that Lyme disease exists.
  • Kate
    "Theories that diseases are caused by mental states and can be cured by will power are always an index of how much is not understood about the physical terrain of a disease."~Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its MetaphorsFirst of all thank you Harper Perennial for sending me this Arc. I am a big fan of Memoirs so I was really excited to read this one. A journey of illness that reads more like a detective novel. Porochista has late-...
  • Amy M
    while kind of interesting, it was self-indulgant and too focused on how 'odd' the author is. Its not really a story about Lyme, or even being sick really. I didn't feel the author showed how she was odd, she just kept saying it. I got pretty bored reading how weird she felt, but how normal she seemed.
  • Marika
    Iranian American novelist Khakpour describes in excruciating detail her fight against an unknown disease, which turned out to be late stage Lyme disease. Much of her battle was in getting the correct diagnoses and disregarding the Dr's who told her that her pain was psychological. For readers who enjoyed "Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved" by Kate Bowler.I read an advance copy and was not compensated.
  • Katrina
    This is a memoir of a person in agony and the author paints a complete but confusing picture of her misery, suffering from chronic illnesses including Lyme disease and mental health issues including depression, anxiety, paranoia and drug addiction. The structure and non-linear fashion of this book makes for a messy, muddled read. Another reviewer suggested this structural mess allows the reader some insight into the author's illness. Perhaps, but...
  • Janani
    This was immensely difficult to read- heartbreaking subject matter aside, I related to the absolute frustration of nor having a diagnosis/name of a thing one has been suffering, and I haven't dealt with a fraction of Porochista's experiences. An absolutely visceral read.
  • alex
    "I liked that there was danger involved with me, that I was someone people could lose, that I could flirt with some other realm, that I was intensely fragile yet ultimately indestructible. I felt like a crystal ballerina, a porcelain swan, but most of all like a ghost." this is a very particular kind of book. you're either going to understand it or you won't. that is no fault of your own, it is based on experience.this is the rawest, realest illn...
  • Jona & Joslyn
    If the author's journey is worthy of a book deal, my journey could be made into a movie. She had it easy compared to many of the people I know suffering from Lyme Disease.
  • Lauren Halster
    Anyone interested in this book absolutely has to read this review in the New York Review of books by an actual doctor. this memoir might be interesting, it's an exercise in delusion, and it might well do more damage than good in the world. As this review puts it, "to insist beyond all plausibility that one’s suffering is related to a tick bite is not feminist; it’s absurd. And to prey on suffering...
  • Nasim
    I found Sick hard to put down, I loved Khakpour's style - sophisticated, measured writing that is easy to read. An image early on of a car crash lodged in my head: 'There were no lights. After some time I turned on my hazards and looked into the rearview mirror and watched more cars speed by, each seeming faster than the one before. Everything seemed black and gold, confusing, elaborate, deadly and strangely a little bit beautiful.'And she can be...
  • Lindsey
    Chronic illness is one thing, chronic illness without the "safety" of having a diagnosis is another. It's a distinction I would not have considered before reading Khakpour's memoir. Her life feels like a mystery, attempting to discover the culprit making her sick - it feels frustrating and exhausting reading her account - I can't imagine being in her shoes. The writing, teaching, and fellowships she's managed throughout the years are amazing give...