April 20, 2017

Actually, No One Is OK

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Darcie Wilder’s novel literally show me a healthy person is a constant yet broken inner monologue in which commas, periods and uppercase letters are scarce, while strangely specific bad memories, death and ex-boyfriends are abundant. There are no chapters, no coherent paragraphs and definitely no chronology. As it turns out, Darcie Wilder knew the recipe for the perfect book all along: all you need is the internet, a large helping of bad experiences, humor and — if you’re as deranged and edgy as Darcie Wilder — you can also kill grammar because in your scattered mind, there are no such thing as rules and organization. Through confusion and memory, literally show me a healthy person taught me many things, among them the fact that either I am already just as deranged as edgy as Wilder, or I will get there very very soon. The novel is meant to tell stories that will make the reader think either “This is weirdly specific and it sounds like something terrible to go through, yet here I am laughing,” or “Yeah that actually happened to me too and I thought I was the only one.” Each anecdote triggers different memories in different people, creating a highly intimate, roller coaster-like,  soul-finding journey for everyone. One paragraph had me laughing, then the next would make me remember insanely embarrassing things from my ongoing series of unfortunate faux pas.

The first page of Wilder’s book introduces the concepts and themes that will be found throughout the novel, which are death, questions that have no answer and things that go terribly wrong. None of the events described by Wilder seem to connect at first, but as the novel progresses, a few connections can be drawn between people and events, and eventually, everything falls into a very hazy timeline with lots of gaps. 97 pages full of glimpses of musings and memories left me strangely satisfied but wanting more: most of my questions were answered, but I wanted to know that Wilder shared more of my nonsensical anxieties and musings. There may be no form of closure, but there never really was anything to resolve. In the end, Wilder demonstrates that there never really is closure when life makes no sense and no one is okay.

While the tone of the novel may appear to be pessimistic and Wilder seems to be in a constant state of panic, she creates a world in which it’s okay to say “you too” when your waiter says “enjoy your meal.” This isn’t chicken noodle soup for your fragile soul — it’s hard liquor for the brave, deranged soul that deserves the world after getting through the worst. If you read too many pages too quickly, all the contrasting thoughts and stories can get confusing and foggy. We live in a world that has normalized and romanticized anxiety, depression, suicide and incompetency. Literally show me a healthy person provides a window that reveals what it’s like to have real tragedy and sadness as opposed to our modern, commercialized and painted versions of them. It’s a novel definitely not meant for those who have never experienced loss, humiliation, heartbreak or confusion to a dramatic extent, as Wilder often describes graphic events involving these things.

Wilder’s novel presents experiences that would require a sheer amount of strength and determination to get through, but it was not about girl power. Literally show me a healthy person is a monument to humans: to our ability to cope with messy breakups, friendship, death, hangovers, blunders, embarrassments and other humans. Wilder assures us all that while we’re not healthy and we’re not okay,we’re all existing and it could be worse — but it’s not.

Viri Garcia is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]