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Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life

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In the vein of bestselling memoirs about mental illness like Andrew Solomon's Noonday Demon, Sarah Hepola's Blackout, and Daniel Smith's Monkey Mind comes a gorgeously immersive, immediately relatable, and brilliantly funny memoir about living life on the razor's edge of panic. The world never made any sense to Amanda Stern--how could she trust time to keep flowing, the sun In the vein of bestselling memoirs about mental illness like Andrew Solomon's Noonday Demon, Sarah Hepola's Blackout, and Daniel Smith's Monkey Mind comes a gorgeously immersive, immediately relatable, and brilliantly funny memoir about living life on the razor's edge of panic. The world never made any sense to Amanda Stern--how could she trust time to keep flowing, the sun to rise, gravity to hold her feet to the ground, or even her own body to work the way it was supposed to? Deep down, she knows that there's something horribly wrong with her, some defect that her siblings and friends don't have to cope with. Growing up in the 1970s and 80s in New York, Amanda experiences the magic and madness of life through the filter of unrelenting panic. Plagued with fear that her friends and family will be taken from her if she's not watching-that her mother will die, or forget she has children and just move away-Amanda treats every parting as her last. Shuttled between a barefoot bohemian life with her mother in Greenwich Village, and a sanitized, stricter world of affluence uptown with her father, Amanda has little she can depend on. And when Etan Patz disappears down the block from their MacDougal Street home, she can't help but believe that all her worst fears are about to come true. Tenderly delivered and expertly structured, Amanda Stern's memoir is a document of the transformation of New York City and a deep, personal, and comedic account of the trials and errors of seeing life through a very unusual lens.


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In the vein of bestselling memoirs about mental illness like Andrew Solomon's Noonday Demon, Sarah Hepola's Blackout, and Daniel Smith's Monkey Mind comes a gorgeously immersive, immediately relatable, and brilliantly funny memoir about living life on the razor's edge of panic. The world never made any sense to Amanda Stern--how could she trust time to keep flowing, the sun In the vein of bestselling memoirs about mental illness like Andrew Solomon's Noonday Demon, Sarah Hepola's Blackout, and Daniel Smith's Monkey Mind comes a gorgeously immersive, immediately relatable, and brilliantly funny memoir about living life on the razor's edge of panic. The world never made any sense to Amanda Stern--how could she trust time to keep flowing, the sun to rise, gravity to hold her feet to the ground, or even her own body to work the way it was supposed to? Deep down, she knows that there's something horribly wrong with her, some defect that her siblings and friends don't have to cope with. Growing up in the 1970s and 80s in New York, Amanda experiences the magic and madness of life through the filter of unrelenting panic. Plagued with fear that her friends and family will be taken from her if she's not watching-that her mother will die, or forget she has children and just move away-Amanda treats every parting as her last. Shuttled between a barefoot bohemian life with her mother in Greenwich Village, and a sanitized, stricter world of affluence uptown with her father, Amanda has little she can depend on. And when Etan Patz disappears down the block from their MacDougal Street home, she can't help but believe that all her worst fears are about to come true. Tenderly delivered and expertly structured, Amanda Stern's memoir is a document of the transformation of New York City and a deep, personal, and comedic account of the trials and errors of seeing life through a very unusual lens.

30 review for Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    Wow! Not a brilliant literary word, but the first word that flowed from my hand as I started to write this review. Little Panic is a brilliant, articulate, honest, and heartbreaking memoir about living with crippling anxiety. As detailed in her book, Stern exhibited symptoms of an anxiety disorder from a very young age, but was constantly tested and told she had a learning disability. Chapters in this book segue smoothly between her youth, and life as an adult; this ably demonstrates the lasting Wow! Not a brilliant literary word, but the first word that flowed from my hand as I started to write this review. Little Panic is a brilliant, articulate, honest, and heartbreaking memoir about living with crippling anxiety. As detailed in her book, Stern exhibited symptoms of an anxiety disorder from a very young age, but was constantly tested and told she had a learning disability. Chapters in this book segue smoothly between her youth, and life as an adult; this ably demonstrates the lasting impact of generalized anxiety disorder left undiagnosed and untreated for far too many years. As a psychologist, I wanted to scream at every mental health professional and educator who missed what Stern depicts as very clear symptoms. Perhaps the clarity comes from Stern’s growth and insight, as she does share that she did everything she could not to disclose her symptoms for fear of others thinking she was dumb and/or crazy. Yet it really wasn’t until Stern was an adult that anybody even suggested an anxiety disorder. The people in Stern’s life were too busy trying to “fix” her to really look at who she was. As a mother, I understand the impulse to protect one’s child, to make things better and easier, to want your child to fit in, and keep unhappy events from a child who is overly sensitive, even when the manner in which this is accomplished is misguided. As somebody who has a family member living with an anxiety disorder, this book performed open heart surgery without anesthesia. I find Stern’s ability to tell a story impressive. She weaves the cultural events of her life growing up in Greenwich Village into her narrative, showing how they actually exacerbated her anxiety. Ultimately, one of the themes she explores is “normalcy.” What is normal? Is a child who learns differently actually disabled? And does labeling cause even more damage, especially when it turns out that the perceived difference isn’t one of intelligence or ability, but more one of learning style? It is impossible to read, put down, and walk away from Little Panic. Disclosure: I requested and received this book as part of the Goodreads Giveaway program.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hanna

    Wow, after finishing this book I feel like I need to take a deep breath. As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I found much of what Amanda feels/thinks/experiences mimics my own life. Her story in many ways isn't my own, but so much resonated. Amanda spent years of her life in the depths of panic while doctors searched for the wrong answers. Finally, at the age of 25, she gains a name for what plagues her. It's not a cure, but there's strength in a name. Amanda tells her story alterna Wow, after finishing this book I feel like I need to take a deep breath. As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I found much of what Amanda feels/thinks/experiences mimics my own life. Her story in many ways isn't my own, but so much resonated. Amanda spent years of her life in the depths of panic while doctors searched for the wrong answers. Finally, at the age of 25, she gains a name for what plagues her. It's not a cure, but there's strength in a name. Amanda tells her story alternating from past to present, illuminating all of the ways in which her panic shaped her life. A must read for anyone hoping to better understand what it's like inside an anxious mind.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Jenkins

    As someone who deals with severe anxiety and was not able to put a name on it for most of their childhood, this book broke me. Reading Amanda’s story of a cry for safety and to be understood was something I felt deeply in every page, and could relate to with her breathtaking vulnerability. Her early years are spent trying to find her safe person, someone to give her name to all of these consuming thoughts, while her adult years are spent trying to find someone to accept it. Those of us who suffe As someone who deals with severe anxiety and was not able to put a name on it for most of their childhood, this book broke me. Reading Amanda’s story of a cry for safety and to be understood was something I felt deeply in every page, and could relate to with her breathtaking vulnerability. Her early years are spent trying to find her safe person, someone to give her name to all of these consuming thoughts, while her adult years are spent trying to find someone to accept it. Those of us who suffer from severe anxiety are often told we’re just being negative or too worried, but as Amanda shows in this book, anxiety is something so deep in our core and being that the idea of switching it off like a light when we’re engulfed by it is so far fetched. Anyone who has anxiety or loves someone with it should pick up this book because the truth and beauty of someone wrestling with it is felt on every page.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Couldn't put this down. Brilliant, heartbreaking, riveting portrayal of growing up in NYC with an undiagnosed panic disorder. I was completely immersed in Amanda's world. Her descriptions of being a child struggling to understand and interact with the world around her were incredibly evocative, as were her descriptions of life growing up in the Village during the 70's/80's. Strongly recommended to anyone who has ever dealt with anxiety or known someone who has, and to anyone else, because it's a Couldn't put this down. Brilliant, heartbreaking, riveting portrayal of growing up in NYC with an undiagnosed panic disorder. I was completely immersed in Amanda's world. Her descriptions of being a child struggling to understand and interact with the world around her were incredibly evocative, as were her descriptions of life growing up in the Village during the 70's/80's. Strongly recommended to anyone who has ever dealt with anxiety or known someone who has, and to anyone else, because it's a really great read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emily Jordan

    A STUNNING, evocative story about the meaning of living with an undiagnosed panic disorder, LITTLE PANIC grips and discomfits in the best way. Stern's honesty is compelling, her humor always spot on. She is a consummate New Yorker from the last moments when New York was still gritty and still had that thing called a soul and kids ran around unfettered by adult supervision. At turns moving, sad, funny and always entertaining, the book shifts seamlessly between adulthood and childhood. These layer A STUNNING, evocative story about the meaning of living with an undiagnosed panic disorder, LITTLE PANIC grips and discomfits in the best way. Stern's honesty is compelling, her humor always spot on. She is a consummate New Yorker from the last moments when New York was still gritty and still had that thing called a soul and kids ran around unfettered by adult supervision. At turns moving, sad, funny and always entertaining, the book shifts seamlessly between adulthood and childhood. These layers convey a woman who is still an eight year old and a child who is wise beyond her years, sometimes dangerously so. (Sometimes the teacher in me wanted to dive into the book and save her!) Ultimately, the book is an examination of life and loss from two perspectives that show how-- and where-- panic nestles in the crevices of experience and what it means to look back and forth and make sense of it all. LOVED this book!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emily Housworth

    received as an ARC. Can't wait to read!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nick Stern

    BOOK OF THE YEAR!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Zoë

    Honestly, it's hard for me to even fathom the fact that I just read a book about a real person that suffers from the same disorder I do. I feel so validated even though this book was hard to read at times because of how close to home it hit. This book was wonderful in all ways. Thank you Amanda Stern!

  9. 5 out of 5

    AnnMarie

    Little Panic is a memoir of panic and anxiety. I have generalized anxiety disorder and this book was like a therapy session. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone in the world of anxiety.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Wow. I have some mild anxiety, and I know and love people who have more severe anxiety and panic attacks, so I guess I thought I had some idea about the struggle of severe anxiety/panic sufferers, but this was a complete eye-opener. Also as a children's librarian (and just as a person probably), her childhood experience just broke my heart. I couldn't stop thinking of all our small patrons and what their internal lives might be like. Highly recommend. Also another note: It becomes clear about hal Wow. I have some mild anxiety, and I know and love people who have more severe anxiety and panic attacks, so I guess I thought I had some idea about the struggle of severe anxiety/panic sufferers, but this was a complete eye-opener. Also as a children's librarian (and just as a person probably), her childhood experience just broke my heart. I couldn't stop thinking of all our small patrons and what their internal lives might be like. Highly recommend. Also another note: It becomes clear about halfway through that this is the author of the Frankly, Frannie series of kids' books! So interesting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Stern does a fabulous job of putting the reader inside the head of someone who struggles with anxiety. I felt her confusion and pain and so wished I could tell those around her to pay more attention. How do you get to 25 without someone realizing that you have a condition that can be helped?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Memoirs of anxiety are exhausting to read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Amanda Stern’s beautifully vulnerable memoir is not simply about panic disorder. It’s also about how we treat others when they don’t match our internalized standards, how we have designed our education system to reject human variation, how our society devalues people who take in information about life via energetic channels versus words, and how we cope when it’s all too much for us. Also...it questions our assumptions about how to “protect” children and other vulnerable ones. What are we protec Amanda Stern’s beautifully vulnerable memoir is not simply about panic disorder. It’s also about how we treat others when they don’t match our internalized standards, how we have designed our education system to reject human variation, how our society devalues people who take in information about life via energetic channels versus words, and how we cope when it’s all too much for us. Also...it questions our assumptions about how to “protect” children and other vulnerable ones. What are we protecting them from? Amanda has given us a gift in making her journey thus far accessible and compelling.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ramona Mead

    When I first started this memoir, I was concerned I wouldn't be able to handle it because my own anxiety was triggered. However that resolved quickly and I became fully immersed in Amanda's experiences. My own anxiety during childhood was not quite as severe and more generalized, and I didn't have siblings for comparison, though my relationship with my mother was similar. Even though I'm an adult now, hearing Amanda's story made me feel less alone. I wanted to reach out to comfort her and swap s When I first started this memoir, I was concerned I wouldn't be able to handle it because my own anxiety was triggered. However that resolved quickly and I became fully immersed in Amanda's experiences. My own anxiety during childhood was not quite as severe and more generalized, and I didn't have siblings for comparison, though my relationship with my mother was similar. Even though I'm an adult now, hearing Amanda's story made me feel less alone. I wanted to reach out to comfort her and swap stories while reading! I'm not sure how this memoir will affect someone who doesn't struggle with anxiety, but there are probably more who do than I realize. I also think it would be a game changer for someone who loves a person with anxiety/panic disorders who can't relate. The writing is strong and vivid. Amanda's personality and those of her family are fully expressed and relatable. She captured her inner dialogue well and brings the reader inside herself with humor, grief, and raw vulnerability. I feel so proud of her for writing this, even though I don't know her at all! Many thanks to NetGalley for my advanced copy. You can find my reviews and other bookish musings at www.ramonamead.com

  15. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Zavala

    Amanda's experiences of growing up with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder is tragically common. It is so impressive that Amanda remembers growing up with the disorder and how it made her think and feel. From the outside it seems obvious that she has a family history of anxiety, it is sad that therapists, teachers, and family didn't diagnose it sooner. I read this book very quickly and I loved her writing style and the flow of the book. I am a true crime reader and I liked hearing Amanda's experienc Amanda's experiences of growing up with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder is tragically common. It is so impressive that Amanda remembers growing up with the disorder and how it made her think and feel. From the outside it seems obvious that she has a family history of anxiety, it is sad that therapists, teachers, and family didn't diagnose it sooner. I read this book very quickly and I loved her writing style and the flow of the book. I am a true crime reader and I liked hearing Amanda's experiences in dealing with Etan Patz's disappearance close to her home as a child. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and I can relate to so many of Amanda's experiences. I recommend this book to anyone who suffers from anxiety or anyone who wants to better understand the disorder. It is not something that you can just snap out of. After reading the book, I understand the picture on the cover. However, I don't think that it will generally be appealing. (just my two cents) Don't let a book fool you by it's cover.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine DeMoranville

    Reading this book was tedious and exhausting. The fact that she appears to come from an intelligent family and never got the help or diagnosis she needed until she was 25, is confusing and puzzling. I could not wait for it to end, and was amazed that she ever got the book published and that People magazine recommended it. Many people have overcome many more tragedies in their lives than Amanda, and even at the end of the book,she has not moved on.I would not recommend this book to anyone.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kelley Pavich

    I found the first chapter or two a little “wordy” and almost gave up, but glad I stuck with it. As someone who suffers from anxiety/panic, I found some of her experiences relatable. A great read for anyone who suffers, or loves someone who does. I particularly like the style in which this memoir is written.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lea

    This book gives a realistically clear view of a child’s anxiety. She verbalizes things from a point of experience and knowledge but I’m confused about if she was this insightful at such a young age. I’m glad she’s found success and is managing her diagnosis.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan Csoke

    Amanda suffered from a anxiety disorder due to growing up between divorced parents. One living in Greenwich Village, the other in uptown manhattan. At thirty nine>still single and childless she longed to have that close family that she never had growing up.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Constance

    Kind of agonizing to read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dara

    DNF

  22. 5 out of 5

    Viktoria

    This is a fascinating insight into one woman's mind. Whether you struggle with anxiety yourself or not, this book demonstrates how those who suffer from mental illness are battling their own brains.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chí Cường

    The book brings you the life of a lady who lived/suffered her life with different lens, or dare I say a totally different world of having panic disorder.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Relentless. Be prepared-this story is honest and revealing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Stern

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lea

  27. 4 out of 5

    Meagan Mcintyre

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jacqui

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bee

  30. 5 out of 5

    barbara goldsen

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