Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Off the Shelf: Hide & Seek by Wendy Aron

"How I Laughed At Depression, Conquered My Fears And Found Happiness" - A Neurotic's Hilarious Journey

Sometime towards the end of August, Wendy Aron visited my blog and offered to let me read & review her book. I jumped at the chance. Once the book arrived, however, school had started and I was in fulltime chauffeur duties, homeschooling my 14 year old, being dance dad, and hobbling around trying to stay ahead of my disabilities. Needless to say many projects did not get done last Fall, including reading & reviewing Wendy's book.

That's why I was glad to find some time over the Christmas holiday. I settled in and dug into the book, finally finishing it about two weeks ago. Now I'm ready to share it with you.

Hide & Seek starts with Wendy's 40th birthday and takes us through a labyrinthine path towards positive self-esteem. She has a wry wit that casts a humorous light on the events that take place in the book, and I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions.

Wendy took notes on her journey and provided very detailed glimpses into the chicanery & buffoonery present in the self-help industry. Readers of this blog may be familiar with such antics. From spiritualists to new age healers, aroma therapists and New Age crystal practitioners there are an awful lot of people out there waiting to prey on the depressed and the desperate. Wendy took us inside their worlds.

Wendy's note taking had a downside for me. Sometimes embarrassing, sometimes dull, her details of various therapy sessions were too real. You know those dreams where you're stuck on the bus and the dream seems to pass in realtime as you travel for three hours to your destination? Some chapters had that effect on me. I've been through too many of those sessions to enjoy sitting through more of them.

I also felt Wendy could be a tad too snarky and bluntly honest at times. I found myself hoping she had fictionalized her accounts beyond just changing names because of the criticisms she leveled at people. This included her friend & family anecdotes which were uncomfortable for me because of their unflattering nature. There was also some use of coarse language, so you may want to take that into consideration.

Of course, many of these negative points are an endorsement of the power of Wendy's story. They made her story real. If I reacted to what she wrote on an emotional level, then she wrote very well indeed. There was much to commend in this book, and if you are looking for a sarcastic poke at problems you may have faced with family, friends, and coworkers while you've struggled with Depression and low self-esteem, this book might be just what you've been looking for.

I loved her digs at the self help industry. That alone made the book enjoyable for me. Having once had a therapist who believed in the harmonic power of crystals, I really enjoyed the skewering Wendy gave the various quacks she encountered. I also throughly enjoyed the chapter featuring "Ms. Happiness". I related with Ms. Happiness' inability to express the power of positive thinking to an audience of depressives. I wanted to seek her out and meet her just to give her some encouragement.

Throughout the book, each therapy would be introduced with hope and closed with failure, mostly on the part of the therapy, as Wendy would dismiss them like the pointless meditation stone she tossed aside. She grew in stature and lost her neurotic edge. In the end, Wendy found the solution was always within herself. Isn't that where we all are at?

Hide & Seek is available at Amazon.com, as well as other fine bookstores. I would definitely recommend this book for people who struggle with self-esteem, and especially for my female readers.

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