Until the age of ten, comedian and writer Abby Sher was a happy child in a fun-loving, musical family. When her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby fills the void of her loss with rituals: kissing her father's picture over and over each night, washing her hands and counting her steps, collecting sharp objects that she thinks could harm innocent pedestrians. Then she begins to pray. At first she repeats the few phrases she remembers from synagogue, but by the time she is in high school, Abby is spending hours locked in her closet urgently reciting a series of incantations and pleas. The prescribed patterns from which she cannot deviate become her shelter and her obsession.
In college, Abby is diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, and while it helps explain the counting and kissing and collecting, she resists rationalizing her deepest obsession, certain that her prayers are not an illness but the cure. Unable to confront the fears that drive her, she descends into darker compulsions, cutting and starving herself, measuring every calorie and each incision. But even in the darkest moments of her illness, there are glimmers of laughter and hope, for she carries the irrepressible spirit and passion that are so much a part of her family. Ultimately, it is another loss—the death of her mother—that compels Abby to redefine the terms of her illness and her faith, freeing her to live and love more fully.
Full of heartbreak, buoyant with humor, and marked by exceptionally vivid storytelling, Amen, Amen, Amen is a brilliant account of soul-searching, self-discovery, and the bounds and boundlessness of obsession and devotion.