Girl in the Dark

Finished Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A gorgeous memoir of an unthinkable life: a young woman writes of the sensitivity to light that has forced her to live in darkness, and of the love that has saved her.

“Something is afoot within me that I do not understand, the breaking of a contract that I thought could not be broken, a slow perverting of my substance.”

Anna was living a normal life. She was ambitious and worked hard; she had just bought an apartment; she was falling in love. But then she started to develop worrying symptoms: her face felt like it was burning whenever she was in front of the computer. Soon this progressed to an intolerance of fluorescent light, then of sunlight itself. The reaction soon spread to her entire body. Now, when her symptoms are at their worst, she must spend months on end in a blacked-out room, losing herself in audio books and elaborate word games in an attempt to ward off despair. During periods of relative remission she can venture cautiously out at dawn and dusk, into a world that, from the perspective of her normally cloistered existence, is filled with remarkable beauty.

And throughout there is her relationship with Pete. In many ways he is Anna’s savior, offering her shelter from the light in his home. But she cannot enjoy a normal life with him, cannot go out in the day, and even making love is uniquely awkward. Anna asks herself “By continuing to occupy this lovely man while giving him neither children nor a public companion nor a welcoming home—do I do wrong?” With gorgeous, lyrical prose, Anna brings us into the dark with her, a place from which we emerge to see love, and the world, anew.”

This is such a scary story, because it’s so easy to think about what would happen if you started to experience these symptoms.  (And Anna experienced no symptoms whatsoever until all of a sudden fluorescent lights started to make her face feel like it was burning.  And then all light started to cause a problem.  And then all she could do was sit in absolute darkness for months.)

I can’t even imagine.  (Also, for added stress, picture how hard it is to actually be in pitch black darkness.)

Also, props to Anna, because she comes up with ways to stay occupied.  Because TV and books (electronic or otherwise are out), she plays a lot of mental games and listens to audiobooks.  And she is dating the world’s best guy, Pete, who carries a lot of the slack.

This is such an interesting story, and I hope there’s eventually a followup.  I hope we eventually learn what caused this and that she eventually gets cured.


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