By Abby Sher
320 pages; Scribner

Abby Sher knew she wasn't an innocent child: She was a monster whose malevolent imaginings could kill. Even before the death of the father she idolized ("one huge and ugly disappearing trick"), she tried to foil disaster through list-making, counting, compulsively tracing the wallpaper in her room. Later on she cut, starved, and purged herself while insistently, repetitively praying her destructiveness would turn inward. "I had never believed in a vengeful G-d," she writes in Amen, Amen, Amen . "I believed in a vengeful me." A story of obsessive-compulsive terrors that Sher (who also does improvisational comedy) plays for laughs as well as tears.

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