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Amen, Amen, Amen

Amen, Amen, Amen

Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying (Among Other Things)

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Until the age of ten, Abby Sher was a happy child in a fun-loving, musical family. But 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, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects that she thinks could harm innocent pedestrians. Then she begins to pray. At first she repeats the few phrases she remem-bers 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. If she doesn't, she is sure someone else will die, too. The patterns from which she cannot deviate become her shelter and her obsession.

In college Abby is diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and while she accepts this as an explanation for the counting and kissing and collecting, she resists labeling her fiercest obsession, certain that her prayers and her relationship with G-d are not an illness but the cure. She also discovers a new passion: performing comedy. She is never happier than when she dons a wig and makes people laugh. Offstage, however, she remains unable to confront the fears that drive her. She descends into darker compulsions, starving and cutting herself, measuring every calorie and incision. It is only when her earliest, deepest fear is realized that Abby is forced to examine and redefine the terms of her faith and her future.

Amen, Amen, Amen is an elegy honoring a mother, father, and beloved aunt who filled a child with music and their own blend of neuroticism. It is an adventure, full of fast cars, unsolved crimes, and close calls. It is part detective story, part love story, about Abby's hunt for answers and someone to guide her to them. It is a young woman's radiant and heartbreaking account of struggling to recognize the bounds and boundlessness of obsession and devotion.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416592532 | 
  • October 2009
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Get to know author Abby Sher

Writer and performer Abby Sher shares her inspiration for her novel AMEN, AMEN, AMEN.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Amen, Amen, Amen includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Abby Sher. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.



Introduction

In this vivid, humorous, and candid memoir, Abby Sher invites us into a life consumed by rituals. When she is ten, Abby’s favorite aunt and father both grow ill and pass away unexpectedly. Overcome with a grief she does not know how to handle, she takes to rituals of comfort: kissing her father’s picture repeatedly, singing songs as she passes familiar landmarks, and praying incessantly for the safety and health of others. Soon, her fervent prayers for the protection of those around her have consumed her life. As Abby transitions into adulthood, her compulsions manifest in new and darker ways. This is her tale of living with obsessive compulsive disorder—a life filled with tragedy, impermanence, and uncertainty, but also joy, passion, and comedy. And, most importantly, an unshakable faith that both nourishes and confounds her being, forever and always, amen.

Questions for Discussion

1. Abby provides a number of examples of early compulsive behavior. Are these innocent childhood see more

Author Revealed

Abby Sher
Q. how did you come to write Amen, Amen, Amen?

A. i wrote an essay about the time i was sure i'd killed a lady with a grocery cart. when it was published an editor called and asked if there was more to the story. there was a lot more.

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