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.”
  • 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 ...
  • Kerry
    A hot mess of cluster-b melodrama and pseudoscientific word salad.(Read Lying: a metaphorical memoir by Lauren Slater instead.)
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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-...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • ReemK10 (Paper Pills)
    I found Porochista's memoir very hard to put down! I follow her on Twitter, and feel like I've sat with her during her lyme treatments, traveled with her to her writing workshops, waited with her at the airport as she made her way with her disability.... I felt very vested in her health, her writing career, her friendships etc. Porochista is precious! She is kind, caring and has the ability to attract people with her personality. This is not a wo...
  • Charlott
    Porochista Khakpour felt a little (or even a lot) off in her body for most of her life - there were aching, dizzy spells, and all kinds of diffuse symptoms. Her memoir "Sick" chronicles her life as being a sick person without a diagnosis. Only quite late doctors finally could put their finger onto the problem: Khakpour has got late stage Lyme disease. The book is not about a straightforward quest to health or at least an answer to the question of...
  • rosamund
    Khakpour suffers from fourth-stage Lyme disease, which causes chronic insomnia, nausea, fevers, dysautomnia and brain fog, among other symptoms. For more than a decade, she seeks answers to explain her symptoms, being shuffled from doctor to doctor, and experiencing at best misdiagnosis and mishandling of her case and at worst outright disbelief and attempts to send her to a psych ward. It is very frightening to be an ill woman, especially an ill...
  • kelly
    I have mixed feelings about this book. Porochista Khakpour gives us a very brave and honest memoir about her struggles with late-stage Lyme disease. The CDC estimates that 30,000 cases occur every year, though the actual number is probably much higher. It is caused by bacteria spread through tick bites, and getting a diagnosis can a nightmare due to the generality of its symptoms (fever, rash, headache, shortness of breath). People who have been ...