cover image Everything/Nothing/Someone: A Memoir

Everything/Nothing/Someone: A Memoir

Alice Carrière. Spiegel & Grau, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-954118-29-4

Carrière’s urgent, visceral debut traces the roots of her struggles with dissociative disorder to the poor boundaries of her childhood. The only child of internationally acclaimed American artist Jennifer Bartlett and German actor Mathieu Carrière, Alice was rocked by her parents’ contentious divorce proceedings, which lasted for six years while she was young. Her emotionally unavailable mother left Alice’s care to paid helpers; later, her father’s transgressive sexual anarchism encouraged Alice’s sexual behavior with his friends. A reciprocal, loving relationship with a teenage boyfriend introduced the author to normal family life, but she couldn’t comprehend healthy relationships free of trauma. Eventually, Carrière lost her grip on her physical self and succumbed to her dissociative disorder: “I was traumatized not by an external event that my mind was trying to escape, but by the experience of my mind escaping itself,” she writes. After suffering medication-induced psychosis while seeking reprieve from the condition and enduring fruitless psychiatric holds, Alice finds purpose in a budding relationship with a fellow recovering addict, who helps anchor her. Carrière’s surgically precise prose compresses her broken-glass experiences into hard diamond truths about family trauma and the mental health industry. This brutal, illuminating account reads like a contemporary Girl, Interrupted. Agent: Kimberly Witherspoon, InkWell Management. (Aug.)