Dora: A Headcase

IMG_1051The magic word here is “Yuknavitch.” If you hand me toilet paper with scribbles and you say that she wrote it, I’ll stop everything I’m doing and read it. She’s that freakin’ good. Everything I read of hers is so compelling. Her sentences are superb. I’m in. Hook. Line. Sinker.

Dora: A Headcase delivers for me. It’s the fictional story narrated by Ida, a 17-year-old girl with a general anger towards everyone around her. Set in modern day Seattle, Ida despises her parents who are making her have sessions with “Sig,” basically Dr. Freud. Ida along with her eccentric friends decide to get back at Sig through some elaborate pranks and their in-depth knowledge of spy cameras and recording technology. But while Ida schemes on how to ruin “Siggy,” she struggles with losing her voice, finding her father in the hospital, and seeing her mother retreat from the house.

Yuknavitch had to read Freud’s famous and controversial case study on Dora (her real name being Ida) while in college. Decades later, she returned to that case study and considered Dora’s point of view in her diagnosis of hysteria. Yuknavitch has revamped the story and allowed Dora a voice.

Ida’s voice is very strong, which makes the book a fast read. I guess some would call it “angry girl writing,” but I think it’s a girl getting through serious emotions caused by family neglect and unwanted sexual advances from her parents’ friends. In one of the reviews, one author stated this should be part of the required reading in high school, which was a great idea to me. High school or college-level, this would be a great novel to dig into and discuss.

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