Devil in the Details

Traig tells her childhood story through a series of vignettes marked by anorexia and obsessive-compulsive disorder with a severely religious bent. We find young Jenny not only repeatedly washing her hands, but also obsessing over the discussion of “discharges” in the book of Leviticus. Reveling in the discovery of strict laws in the Old Testament, she finds it was “all laid out, everything thou hast been worrying over … blood and sores and seed.” She introduces us to her sarcastic, interfaith family and relates her experience of trying to be Jewish in a rural town. “We were so isolated, ringed by backwoods racists whose hobbies included cooking batches of crystal meth and writing pamphlets denying the Holocaust.” Traig’s wry sense of humor and cutting wit move the reader through the how and why of OCD sufferers “…like hamsters on treadmills, all industrious activity with nothing to show for it. If we were compelled to turn windmills or crank generators rather than alphabetize the canned goods, we could solve the energy crisis.”