Some memoirs are just necessary. They speak to some form of triumph that appeals to our own innate sense or hope that we, too, can overcome any kind of weird, unforeseen adversity life can hand us. Such is the case with Anna Lyndsey’s remarkable Girl in the Dark: A Memoir, an exceptionally well-written and unforgettable book that takes the reader into some truly dark emotional and physical territory that most of us fortunately can only imagine.
The book chronicles Lyndsey’s descent into a rare form of light sensitivity that prevents her from exposing her bare skin to all forms of light. It happens fast: from torturous and unexplained pain after sitting in front of her computer monitor at work to the total inability to withstand any form of light whatsoever – be it electric or natural. Many doctors are seen, many meds prescribed, alternative treatments exhaustively researched and discarded. Lyndsey’s reclusive existence becomes one of blacked-out windows, short nightly trips outdoors, where even streetlights cause her skin to feel an excruciating burn.
What keeps Girl in the Dark from rising above mere ‘disease of the week’ material is ultimately the quality of Lyndsey’s writing, which brings the reader breathtakingly close to the emotional, physical and social toll this ailment continues to take on the author. That’s right, despite glimpses of hope for a cure or reliable treatment, Lyndsey has written a book literally from the dark, where triumph over adversity isn’t necessarily the point. Her occasional glimpses of light are what get her through, bringing us with her into that light that we so easily take for granted. This is an essential read.