Firstly, I just want to say a huge thank you to Lana Grace Riva for reaching out and providing me a copy of this book for an honest review. I really appreciate it.
Mental health is something that’s very important to me and when I read the description of the novel after being contacted by Riva, I knew I wanted to hear Amy’s story. I wanted to see how she experiences life and how she copes, or perhaps doesn’t cope, with it. Ultimately, I found a protagonist I related a lot to on different levels.
The Existence of Amy follows a young woman who, on the surface, would appear to lead a completely normal life. However, the way Amy’s brain perceives what it means to lead a normal life is drastically different to some of her friends.
As the title suggests, the entire novel is told from Amy’s perspective which was really interesting. There were several occasions where I really related to some of the thoughts that Amy was having, as she was trying to go about her usual working day. Not much is revealed about Amy aside from her struggles, we get glimpses of who she is, or was, but that’s it. On the one hand it made it difficult to form a deeper bond with Amy, but on the other it is a great way to show how important mental health is and how negative mental health can completely take over and change a person against their will.
I thought her friends/colleagues were a good contrast and also complemented Amy pretty well. I really loved Nathan and I think he is the friend that we all deserve. I could have read a whole novel on his story because he was so interesting and inspiring. In regards to her other friends, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sally, I didn’t like her tough love approach but I understand why this kind of character was included. Everyone reacts to mental health in different ways, and it was important to show this, her heart was in the right place even if the execution of her support was questionable.
Riva covers a lot of ground in this, relatively short, novel which gives a good allround view of how Amy struggles day-to-day, and in other situations, whether people realise it or not. There were times in the novel where I felt the pacing was a little off, a little rushed, whilst this could be a technique to show how Amy doesn’t always perceive time in the same way as others I would have liked the novel just to be a little longer. Regardless of the pacing, I still managed to read this novel in one sitting in a couple of hours as I enjoyed it and really wanted to see what would happen with Amy and her friendships.
Overall, I think this is a great introduction to what people who are struggling with their mental health go through and how it can just take a sudden turn after building up gradually for years. I really liked how Riva depicted Amy’s mental health which felt very real and had me tearing up at times.