#AusReads Book Review: “A Kind of Magic” by Anna Spargo-Ryan

Title: A Kind of Magic
Author: Anna Spargo-Ryan
Audio book narrator: Anna Spargo-Ryan
Genre: Memoir
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 08/02/2023 – 22/02/2023
no rating


I always feel a bit weird rating and reviewing non-fiction, memoir in particular. Who am I to say “3 stars for baring your soul, Anna.”? Even if it’s four or five, it still feels odd to put a numerical rating on something so personal to someone. So that’s why this review is unrated and more of a chat about my reading experience. Which I guess is basically a review. Ugh.

Ahem. Anyway.

I knew I wanted to read this book because I follow the author on Twitter and she is an excellent human being. She truly does lay herself and her struggles bare in this book, but as the blurb states, throughout it all, there is an unwavering sense of optimism.

Anna goes into detail about her experience of being mentally ill, as well as that of trying to find treatments for her various diagnoses. She also talks about how a diagnosis can impact on your very identity, and what that means when a diagnoses changes over the years. There’s also some medical science talk peppered throughout, explaining a myriad of mental illnesses.

There’s something about listening to a memoir like this read by the author. I like to think you’re hearing it as she intended for it to be heard. When the tone is sarcastic, she is definitely sarcastic. When she is describing the terror of her first psychotic episode, you feel that fear.

I guess if I had any quibbles (again, “who am I to say…”) it would be the way the timeline jumped around a lot and I had to sometimes work out where I was now in Anna’s life story. I suspect this was partially by design, at least. One of the concepts the book delves into is ‘mental time travel’ and how certain mental illnesses can affect a person’s ability to mentally construct past and future times, and she talks a lot about her experiences with this, and the fallibility of human memory.

A finaly word on triggers. This isn’t a book for everyone. It gets pretty harrowing at times. Anna describes some pretty scary experiences, both in terms of mental health episodes, as well a creepy boyfriends and bad experiences with drug use to name a couple. If you’ve had similar ones, you may wish to take stock of whether you’re in the right space for it.

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