Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review: I Kill Me

By Jami Deise

The internet has made it easier to be a hypochondriac. All one has to do is type in the symptoms, and viola, a list of possible diseases appears on the computer screen. And even the most innocuous-seeming symptoms – flaky skin, anyone – could be a death sentence. (Flaky skin is a symptom of skin cancer!)

Christine Bacon, the 42 year-old heroine of Tracy H. Tucker’s debut self-published novel “I Kill Me: Tales of a Jilted Hypochondriac,” seems to have memorized the entire contents of Web MD. A headache is a brain tumor; a mole is melanoma. While she’s mostly able to keep her worst fantasies at bay for the sake of her husband Richard (his nickname, “Dick” is quite appropriate), their daughters Lily and Carli, and her high school teaching job, when her marriage falls apart, so does she.

Dick is a one-time guitar player turned insurance salesman. When he asks Christine for a threesome with his European massage therapist, Eleanor, Christine reluctantly agrees to go through with it for the sake of the marriage. But after Dick and Eleanor blindfold her, Christine freaks out and can’t go through with it. It’s for the best – Christine finds out from the wife of Dick’s co-worker that he took naked pictures of Christine and showed them to his colleagues. Horrified and distraught, Christine confronts Dick, who replies that he wants out.

After this humiliating introduction, it’s impossible to feel anything but sympathy for Christine. Dick and Eleanor quickly become a couple while Christine comes down with a different imaginary illness almost daily. At the same time, she’s teaching, bringing up her daughters, dealing with her suffocating mother (who moves to Christine’s hometown to “help out”) and gingerly trying to date.

“I Kill Me” is a very well-written novel, and each of its characters – especially the daughters – ring true as fully realized, complete, and age-appropriate. Christine is highly likable, and the reader roots for her on every page. Dick is very well named. Tucker does an excellent job with the pacing of the story, smoothly skipping over months in order to get to plot points without ever calling attention to the time jumps.

However, the book is not as funny as it tries to be. I believe the hypochondria plot could have been better developed for more laughs. Christine believes she has a new illness with every chapter. Perhaps if she were convinced of one particular illness, the plot could have had a bigger payoff. Furthermore, most hypochondria plots tend to end ironically, and there was no irony in this story. (Although the ending is very emotionally satisfying.)

“I Kill Me” is a very smooth read, and the hours I spent reading it went quickly. Author Tucker is competing in a very crowded marketplace, though – this is the fourth book about divorce I’ve read in the past few weeks. And while the hypochondriac plot did not play out fully, it does have the benefit of educating readers about symptoms while entertaining them with the story.

Tracy H. Tucker is a talented writer, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Thanks to Tracy for the book in exchange for an honest review. Tracy is donating 50% of her October royalties from her book to the Susan D. Komen Race For the Cure, since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She is doing this in memory of her grandmother who died of breast cancer, and in celebration of a couple of other family members who have fought this disease. "I Kill Me" is currently 99 cents for Kindle.

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1 comment:

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Nice book. You make it sound very interesting.