Review of Elissa Bassist’s HYSTERICAL

Hysterical: A Memoir by Elissa Bassist

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m staring at another book filled with multicolored flags, wondering where to start to unpack the sheer genius that is Elissa Bassist. (While rolling my eyes at my husband and muttering that there aren’t a “million” tabs; mostly because the package didn’t contain a million in the first place) And my only complaint – which she owned when discussing the book in a class on tragicomic memoir – was the abundance of lengthy sentences that left me scrambling for “breath” as they lingered on the brain. A small price to pay for having my mind torn open and shaken to pieces before being lovingly reassembled. (Mostly)

Ms. Bassist weaves her story with sheer wit and grit that leaves you desperately clinging to the pages long past a reasonable bedtime. It’s a level of anticipation that goes beyond suspense. You need to UNDERSTAND, to RESOLVE, to SCREAM. She flays open the world in a way that’s raw and real – and horrifically painful. You’re both appalled and intrigued, desperate to regain footing in a society you thought you understood. (When the reality is you knew NOTHING) She pulls no punches, and you thank her for it. Because her trauma exposes yours and allows you to contemplate the thousands of silences you’ve accepted as “normal.” The more you read, the more pressure you feel gathering in your jaw. By the time you flip that final page, the need to speak, cry, scream is impossible to deny.

She grants every reader a new voice!

This reaches beyond a commentary on the limping state of feminism. Ms. Bassist offers a glimpse into the life of every woman’s mind. The constant ebb and flow of SILENCE that predominates our lives. And she sounds the call of battle to break free from our prisons. It’s a humbling reflection on every influence that’s ever diminished the volume of our voice – acknowledged or not. And I, for one, cannot find enough words to thank her.

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