Media Consumption

The Devil in the Details…

Devil in the Details : Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood Do you ever read something and wish throughout the whole book that you could like it more? That was how I felt through most of Devil in the Details : Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood by Jenny Traig. I liked the book, but I wanted to like it more.

I think part of the problem for me stemmed from the cover art. I know that may sound strange, but my first thought when I received the book was, “Wheeee! ChickLit!” When I was first contacted about The Virtual Book Tour, I was told it was a autobiography, so I knew it wasn’t, but I’m a sucker for good ChickLit. The cover is cute and spunky and has that feel about it. Other people that have seen the book at my house this past month have said the same thing, so I know it’s not just me.

Then there was the matter of the descriptions on the back cover, which also lead me into the ChickLit reading mode: “Devil in the Details is hilarious, frightening, good-natured, and deeply moving all at once, a compulsively readable comic memoir that combines the bizarre best of Roz Chast and Dostoyevsky.”

I didn’t find it to be a comic memoir. Parts of it made me laugh, don’t get me wrong. Most of it made me feel very sad though. Sad that people get wrapped up in obsessive behavior. Scared that as a mother, my own child could someday be so wrapped up in obsessive/compulsive behavior that he couldn’t function in normal society. Not likely, but as he is reaching 13, the age when a lot of Jenny’s issues reached a new height of OCD, well – it’s a fear. (Hey, I never claimed to not have issues all my own.) I felt sympathy for Jenny’s parents, and how hard it must have been to cope with a child so overwhelmed with scrupulosity – where religious rules cast a shadow on everything she did, in a very crazy way.

To sum it up, the book takes us on a journey through Jenny’s teens, where she starts off dealing with annorexia, but moves on to scrupulosity, “a hyper-religious form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Basically, Jenny was Jewish, raised in a mixed religion household (Jewish and Catholic). Without any formal religious training, she finds her way to the religious laws of the Old Testament – and makes them her own. In a very, very extreme way. No longer following true Jewish customs, she finds herself having issues with where to sit, what to eat, washing her hands in an extreme ritual manner, and every aspect of her life regulated by the religious guidelines she has set for herself. Her life is crippled because of the scrupulosity, and she struggles to follow her own strict rules in the world as we know it.

I think that my mindset throughout the entire book was that it was going to be even more amusing, hilarious, side-splitting laughter inducing than it was. I will read this book again, trying not to think of it from that angle, and hopefully I will find more humor in it the second time around. For now, it was good – but not what I expected. It was much more thought provoking for me than it was comic.

There is some truth to the jacket liner notes – reading this book was heartbreaking for me. Maybe OCD is an issue that I am just overly sensitive to? Who knows. It is a fast read, and there are moments of amusement – especially the “Interstitial” sections, which contain informative essays on things like the “Guide to Proper Hand-washing Technique” and “My Sister’s Room is the Gateway to Death: a Two-column Proof.” It is a good book, and I would still recommend it – especially if the inner workings of an OCD mind are something you find interesting.

The fine print: This post is a part of The Virtual Book Tour, coordinated by Kevin Smokler. If you are interested in other reviews of this book, please visit the other sites in the tour, listed on my previous post or on the Virtual Book Tour site.

By Christine

Christine is an Avenger of Sexiness. Her Superpower is helping Hot Mamas grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty. She lives in the Heights in Houston, Texas, works as a boudoir photographer, and writes about running a Business of Awesome. In her spare time, she loves to knit, especially when she travels. She & her husband Mike have a food blog at Spoon & Knife.

2 replies on “The Devil in the Details…”

Thanks for your comment on my blog, thought I’d check out yours too. I’m so relieved I’m not the only one who was baffled by the hype! All throughout the book I was worrying about missing something, or worried that perhaps I had a very different sense of humor, since what most people found funny made me so sad. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one! Thanks!

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