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Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying (Among Other Things)

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  582 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Until the age of ten, Abby Sher was a happy child in a fun-loving, musical family. But when her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby fills the void of her loss with rituals: kissing her father's picture over and over each night, washing her hands, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects that she thinks could harm innocent pedestrians. Then she begins to pray. ...more
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published October 20th 2009 by Scribner (first published September 28th 2009)
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Jeremy Hornik
May 09, 2011 Jeremy Hornik rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. I plowed right through it in two sittings, couldn't really put it down. Stayed up too late to finish it, and now have to write a bit before I'll be able to sleep.

It's quite good. She vividly evokes that feeling of responsibility you get when you just feel responsible for things that are clearly out of your control. The whole thing reads a bit like a thriller... she is so often just barely on the edge of control, and you read headlong with this sick feeling of fear for w
Feb 23, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it
I somewhat liked reading this book because I have OCD, and this book made me feel like a neurotypical. I would hate to have the obsessions and compulsions of the author. I felt more and more thankful for my brain as I read this book and more and more fearful/sad/sympathetic about the author's brain.

I've never heard of anyone with such horrible obsessions and compulsions. I feel bad that she kills everyone she sees, has to pray all day, has a completely undifferentiated relationship with her moth
Apr 21, 2013 nicole rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
My brother has OCD and I don't understand it. I mean, I understand it the way someone who was a psychology minor in undergrad understands it, but to see someone you love so much suffering so greatly makes it harder to find any comfort in that clinical understanding. I want so badly to know the right thing to say, to have the answers for him, or at least for myself. My brother's ability to describe the nuances of his own struggle are brave and incredible, but I still feel like at such a loss.

Erin Shea Smith
Jun 11, 2009 Erin Shea Smith rated it really liked it
LOVED this book. Gracefully written, heartfelt, lovely. It did feel a bit rushed at the end, and I think I (maybe unfairly) expected as much detail at the latter half as I did the first. There were some major developments that felt rushed, hurried.

Significant, though, is that she doesn't attempt to make this very complex disease simple or easily digestible for the reader. It's raw and poignant and worth the read.
3 1/2 stars. I am a literary voyeur, I love to look at others' lives, so I thought this “memoir of a girl who couldn't stop praying (among other things)” would be right up my alley. In some ways it was, in others – not so much.

Abby has had much too much loss in her life, beginning when she was most vulnerable, as a child. Her OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) began manifesting itself before the losses but was greatly exacerbated when someone close to her died. She began to feel she was respons
Dec 04, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it
Abby Sher was a happy child from a musical family until about the age of ten. When her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby deals with her grief and the loss by performing various rituals. For example, kissing her fathers picture over and over again at night. Suddenly something so seemingly harmless grows into a series of elaborate rituals such as: repetitive praying, washing her hands over and over, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects from the pavement. Before long her prayer r ...more
Dec 01, 2009 Cassidy rated it it was amazing
It's easy to write reviews about mediocre books, good books, decent books, nice books, pretty books, okay books, bad books, and horrible books. But it's very difficult to write a review about a brilliant book.

'Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying' is a brilliant book. I don't know how to write this review. The only way I can think of to describe the brilliance found in this memoir is to say I can't describe the brilliance found in this memoir.

Instead of typing up 100 hund
Edessa Grace Uy
May 31, 2014 Edessa Grace Uy rated it it was amazing
Picked up this book immediately after reading Prozac Nation and I'm glad I did. What a great read! Honest and refreshing, this gave a clear view of how people with OCD go through life on a daily basis. Unlike most memoirs recounting a life of mental illness, Sher did it in a light and humurous way. Amen, Amen, Amen is very deep and personal but is insightful, inspiring, beautifully written. It doesn't overwhelm, it does not alienate "outsiders"; it doesn't pull you in a hole of darkness. Simply ...more
Kristin Louise Duncombe
Jan 25, 2014 Kristin Louise Duncombe rated it it was amazing
Fantastic writing, compelling story, absolutely the best description of OCD I have ever read. Highly recommended.
Oct 04, 2010 Donna rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I enjoyed this book. I have dealt with issues associated with OCD, so I could definitely relate to some of the things she experienced. Great memoir!
Grace S.
Oct 12, 2015 Grace S. rated it liked it
Shelves: clubbin-with-mom
I'm not sure I've had a weirder book-reviewing experience than trying to review something that's essentially someone frankly revealing a painful life journey. I'm attempting not to sound critical of Sher herself, and keep things to the writing/book. Hopefully I do okay.

At some point during the reading of Amen, Amen, Amen, I realized that it was sort of a frankenbook--started out one thing, turned into another.

We begin in a very simplified, childish prose (purposely so, I'm not trying to insult
Lacey Louwagie
Read Harder Reading Challenge Item: Read a book in which the main character has a mental illness

This book was incredibly well-written and at times very hard to read.

It begins with what the author seems to see as the "triggering" event for her lifelong struggle with OCD, which was the death of her favorite aunt, followed closely by the death of her father. At age 11, she is not fully able to process his loss, and because of that, she never cries and assumes this must mean that she wanted him to d
This book was a lot harder to read than I had anticipated.

As a child, both the author’s beloved aunt, and father died suddenly. Soon after, she began to struggle with OCD. As a young adult, she developed an eating disorder and later began cutting herself. This book chronicles her hours of daily prayer, her compulsive gathering of trash, her magical thinking of responsibility for the deaths of strangers, and other manifestations of her mental illness.

I’m not sure why I thought this would be a mo
Alex Templeton
Dec 27, 2009 Alex Templeton rated it really liked it
If you've been paying attention to my list of books, you'll probably notice I've been into memoirs lately. I just seem to be finding the stories people tell about their own lives and struggles as compelling as a good novel (when well done). Abby Sher's memoir is about her life as an obsessive-compulsive who lost hours of her life to the need to pray and take responsibility for the calamities of the world. It was a really poignant story of someone who desperately wanted to take control of the wor ...more
Mary Lou
Oct 29, 2016 Mary Lou rated it liked it
A glimpse into the thoughts of someone riddled with OCD. I had the audio, but found the author's voice grating. I sensed this would be a good book without the distraction of the reader, though, so I picked up a hard copy which made a world of difference.

The story and the glimpse into Sher's mind is fascinating and compelling in the same way that rubber-necking at a car wreck is compelling. Part freak show, part "thank God no one in my family suffers from mental illness!" Sher's story gives this
Miki Garrison
Mar 29, 2010 Miki Garrison rated it it was amazing
I love reading memoirs, but there's usually something that makes them a bit of a struggle for me -- maybe it's just that uncommon for the people with the most interesting lives are also the best writers, maybe it's how rarely people have enough distance and perspective to know what about their interior and exterior lives is going to be intriguing to others. And maybe it's that weaving together all the different plot threads of a life -- family, relationships, career, mental illness, health -- in ...more
After experiencing two close losses in her family at an early age, Sher develops severe OCD (or her latent OCD-ness was severely exacerbated - she had some tendencies before everything happened).

She can't stop praying, picking up trash that could potentially harm someone else (paper clips, pieces of glass, leaves), kissing her father's picture, or washing her hands to name a few. She also feels like her rituals are keeping her family safe while at the same time believing that she's causing acci
Jan 13, 2012 Ami rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
The book was totally engrossing, and the writer talented. I can't tell you how comforting and fascinating it is to read about someone *else's* obsessive fears & compulsive behaviors & relationships to stave those fears off, to try to keep them at bay. OCD isn't about liking things clean or organized; it's about trying to control things you can as a way to compensate for things you can't, even (and especially) when it gets in the way of the rest your life, just for a little more room to p ...more
Vera at LuxuryReading.Com
Feb 16, 2016 Vera at LuxuryReading.Com rated it really liked it
Ever since she was little, Abby Sher had the tendency of doing things in certain order, or for a certain amount of times, or collecting specific pieces of garbage. Abby also had the tendency to pray non-stop.

"Amen, Amen, Amen" is Abby Sher's account of growing up with obsessive-compulsive disorder. At first, Abby finds comfort in her daily rituals, but soon realizes that there's nothing normal about her behavior. Nevertheless, Abby faces daily challenges and life traumas by adopting more and mo
Jul 23, 2010 Rachel rated it really liked it
Note: I read an advanced copy, although the book has been released.

What I like about this book is that Sher delves into her OCD in ways that are rarely depicted in literature or other media, except as oddities.

I didn't know what the memoir was about until I started it, and I will say that, although I don't watch them too often, I love reality tv shows that show people in their addictions--whether they be to illegal substances, to rituals, to food (or not)--and then their treatment. Intervention,
Oct 04, 2010 Annette rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Good Reads I received this book as a First Reads winner. This memoir was amazing. It was a very personal look at mental illness and how it can deprive someone of simple every day life. Looking at the author's (Abby's) life, from the outside, anyone would be envious at all that she had - devoted loving family, many friends, great job. However, sharing what was going on inside of her, we are able to see that her obsessive compulsive disorder does not allow her to appreciate this to it's ...more
Suzie Q
Apr 05, 2010 Suzie Q rated it really liked it
pretty good book about an OCD girl who collects trash thinking she is saving the world from major accidents that a paperclip or a shard of glass could cause. She loses her father and stepfather to illness and then thinks she needs to pray extra long and extra diligently to prevent any other future loses or else bad things will happen to friends or family or even strangers.

She starts to become obsessed with relationships and exercise and dieting and although she goes to a doctor for some of this
I had a tough time with this book on audio, in part I believe because the author read it herself; her little girl voice became more difficult to accept as she grew older. Moreover, the story relies on description to a significant extent, which might be okay in print, but Sher lingers on such details, dragging out this Series of Unpleasant Events until nearly the very end (last half hour or so), as she’s in denial about her serious problems, making several bad choices with negative consequences. ...more
John Wolter
Aug 30, 2013 John Wolter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Abby Sher takes us on an inside view of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as she recounts her journey into a world of rituals (including praying), anorexia, cutting, alcohol abuse, and ultimately progress in recovery. This is a good read, although at times I found myself shaking my head at the decisions she made along the way. I guess that shows that she manages to share enough of herself in the process that I genuinely cared about what she did to herself and to her relationships.

The book ends
Apr 27, 2012 Elisabeth rated it liked it
3 stars because I seem to give everything I like 4 stars. This book is raw and haunting and not in the least bit funny -- I expected it to be somewhat less sad and somewhat more funny, perhaps because I read Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood.

That said, I recommend it! But not to everyone. Not for the emotionally squeamish! Probably not for boys (except under unusual circumstances). I feel like I should have more to say about this, but I'm still processing it.
Jan 12, 2016 V rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was absolutely the BEST memoir I've read in a while! Even though I do not have an OCD diagnosis, I have a tendency to adopt semi-ritualistic patterns when extremely stressed, so I found Abbie's tales of praying, counting, kissing, etc. fascinating and disturbing but funny, all at the same time. Her candor and way of expressing herself (comedically, since that is her profession) makes for delightful reading. I liked reading about her all-consuming relationships with friends and lovers. I als ...more
Becky Johnson
Jul 01, 2012 Becky Johnson rated it it was amazing
First of all, I must give Abby Sher props for divulging a highly-personal story about her struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder – a disease that consumes almost her entire life. While many reviewers of this book on Amazon found this book to be somewhat-overly-repetitious, as someone who struggles with moderate OCD herself, I found her repetitions to truly show how the disease has affected her, the importance of rituals in her daily life, and how she has learned to cope with her condition. ...more
Oct 03, 2010 Elle rated it really liked it
This book is a memoir about a woman suffering through OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Often we joke about real psychological illnesses. We'll comment and say, "That's my OCD talking." This young woman copes with the deaths of members in her family through discovering that repetition of prayers will soothe her. The question becomes then, "Does she pray because she has OCD or does she pray out of faith?" It is a question in which she doesn't share with the world (until the book was written) t ...more
Oct 06, 2010 Patsy rated it really liked it
I have this book in a COMPLUSIVE fashion. It was quite informative, shedding light on life as a person living with the demons of compulsion. I now understand much better why a person must find their own way to healing from those that nuture, support and attempt to heal them. I do wish the author had give more time to sharing the supporters viewpoints. How did these people (family, friends, professional) "see" the author? The writing really took me into the world of someone with OCD, so I would c ...more
Feb 09, 2011 Judy rated it liked it
My coworker lent me this book because she knew I would find a memoir about obsessive compulsive disorder too good to turn down. The author did a good job chronicling her journey into her OCD life. I guess I was looking for a train wreck but with medication and the help of some strong people who loved her, she was able to lead a functional and productive life so this is more a book celebrating the success of overcoming the disorder. So, I guess I was slightly disappointed I did not see more of a ...more
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