Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

“I’m a coward. I run from knowing everything…I can’t grasp death. The immensity, the finality, if you don’t believe there’s a place where someone is waiting for you. I don’t know what to do with something so immovable. To know you can see someone only by looking back,” (Jackson 284).

Things have been rough for twenty-four year-old Alice. She’s recently lost her job, is having trouble sleeping, and doesn’t really want to eat. And to make matters worst her best friend Mia is chronically ill, having lost her hair and put on multiple IV drips as her stay in the hospital gets longer and longer. But Mia will get better, she has too. And until she does Alice keeps her new familiar routine of visiting Mia in the hospital and watching movies while Mia pressures her to continue living her life, to be social and to meet someone. But how is that even possible when Alice can find a flaw in any guy who seems sort of nice and is interested in her, who will most likely end up disappointing her anyways. How can Alice be happy when so much in her life isn’t?

I happened upon A Bit Much on Goodreads I think, drawn in by the stylishly bright cover and the fact that it’s a debut novel by a Canadian author. I read the summary and some Goodreads reviews that described it as a “sad girl book” which I’m also a sucker for. I knew that the book focused on Alice and her friend Mia who is chronically ill, but I didn’t know how much detail there would be until I started reading, and honestly how triggering it would be.

My sister is chronically ill. Visiting her in the hospital when she’s been admitted, attending doctors appointments and infusions as well as discussing treatment options and changes to her medication are something I’m intimately familiar with, as well as the fear and worry of waiting for diagnoses, trying to find something that works, and the fear of a worst case scenario that I often try not to allow myself to think about.

A Bit Much was uncomfortably familiar. I saw my sister in Mia, her familiarity and experience as a chronically ill person, her fear of her illness and wanting to be treated the same as she was before but also needing people to acknowledge that she is sick now, the changes that come with sickness and adjusting to this new and terrifying normal. Alice’s anxiety was like something I’ve never read before and I related to it so much that it made me feel both seen and uncomfortable, but overall grateful that a depiction of this type of anxiety, depression, and mental illness now exists for other reader’s to get a glimpse into. The thing that stuck most with me was Alice’s struggle to live normally, and having Mia pushing her to be social and go on dates, but Alice being unable to handle the guilt of being happy when Mia isn’t, the fear of being happy and expecting something horrific to happen soon afterward.

The ending was fitting. That’s all I’ll say, though I don’t know if everyone will agree with that.

All that is to say that there were definitely times reading this book was…a bit much (ba dum tss!). But honestly so worth it. I am so glad that this book exists, despite the difficulty I had reading it. A Bit Much is an important and unforgettable debut and I can’t wait to read more of Jackson’s work.

59811977Publication: June 7 2022
Publisher: Penguin Books Canada
Pages: 264 pages (Hardcover)
Source: Library
Genre: Fiction, Adult, Contemporary,
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤

Alice is twenty-four and falling apart. She’s lost her job, her appetite, her ability to sleep. And now she’s worried she’s going to lose Mia, her closest friend, who’s being treated for a serious illness. On the days Alice can get herself out of bed, she visits Mia at the hospital. While they sink into familiar patterns–Alice makes Mia laugh, Mia tells Alice she needs to get laid–they know their friendship is changing, and they can’t control what will happen in the days ahead.
Still focused on Mia, while trying to convince others she’s a stable, happy person, Alice meets her neighbour James–someone she used to try to avoid. They’re interested in each other, but Alice, who is a lethal combination of judgmental and insecure, is hesitant; she has never had luck with dating, and she thinks now is a weird time since Mia needs her. And Alice figures he probably sucks anyway. Mia encourages Alice to be social, while attempting to hide her own loneliness and fear as her body breaks down. But as Alice tries to push herself to do more, including allowing herself to get close to James, she struggles to move forward knowing Mia can’t.

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