Hearts shoot out of my eyes for this book; in fact, I’m in love with Alice Carrière’s memoir Everything, Nothing, Someone. There, I said it. I became obsessed with her story, and it doesn’t let the reader off the hook. When finished, I left the book on my bedside table and spied it during my day, wondering if there was more that I might’ve missed.

As the cookie crumbles, I probably would not have heard about this book until the The New York Times placed it on its books-to-read-in-August list. I listened to the author on The Bret Easton Ellis Podcast (her episode was in two parts; you need to be a subscriber…). BEE has plenty of writers on his show, and being the guy who wrote American Psycho, I feel like his insights are concise if not inspiring. Feel what you feel about BEE, he can write, and has good taste in literary novels.

While reading the first half of this memoir I had a sneaking suspicion that Alice Carrière had seen into my own past. The chicken skin I felt was real, when I realized that what I went through was a lot like what I was reading, and poignant, which is to say I identified with the trauma. Whether it’s her childhood, or how she wobbled into her thirties, I get it, and none of this is your fault.

“The artist” is selfish, self-focused, and if a kid is nipping at their heels the bad parenting on display will leave you shaking your head. Alice’s mother is famous in the heady New York City art world, but it’s her French actor father who tips the scales of sanity. I got the feeling that if we’re blaming someone here, it’s not always Mom.

To be clear, the writing here is fast, quick, and fat-free. The reader gets the facts from a fire hose. The feeling I got right away, is that Alice Carrière had to write her story. She might have expired if this didn’t get published, and that feeling is on every page. When her father asks her to lick his tears off his face, you will catch your breath. Dad isn’t bad per se, but being from France where intimacy with underage children is on the life menu, (no matter how reasonable or gracious I get, there is never a conversation that I could ever be part of where that kind of rationalization will work. I have children; it’s too brutal to even think about. Puritan or not…), in fact, a cab driver sees Dad and Alice in the back of his cab and thinks he’s seeing a successful date in progress, then he finds out that Alice is with her father and remarks, “I don’t hold my daughter like that.” There is something so toxic about that scene that it rips me up. Alice doesn’t know who she is, and anyone with at least a Dr. Oz degree could draw a line from Alice’s disassociation in her mid to late twenties to these interactions with her father.

Adjacent to Alice’s trauma is her mother. Artist Jennifer Bartlett, who is well known, runs with the “in crowd” but also has her own trauma and somehow is jealous of Alice’s trauma. Can a mother’s trauma be more intense that her own child’s? Again, Alice and I are holding the exact same cards and it’s such a screwed-up situation. I’m surprised that Alice is still with us. She slides down the slippery slope of drugs and alcohol in predictable excess, but it’s when she retells her cutting episodes that I had to look away. I’m not a life novice (at 54 you see things even if you won’t look) and I know from cutting. The description of the cutting process will level you. By the time Alice makes it to rehab, I thought it might be too late. Her father is off making movies, and Mom is racing to bad health, possibly irreversible. Along the way Alice draws the short straw when it comes to men. In fact, she hits the bad luck lottery. These “romances” will floor you. The rock star, God damn…

Her story never takes its foot off your throat (I’m waxing hyperbolic here, but who cares). I can’t believe I made it out of this book in one piece. I know parents can screw up their kids, but when the intimacy line is crossed between father and daughter it’s very hard to come back; I’d say impossible. Like buying your kids drugs and then wondering why things went sideways. There is a catharsis towards the end, which felt real and glowed bright. Listening to her assured, intelligent—even compelling—voice on the podcast followed by reading her liquid narrative, made me feel lucky to have had an early look at this book. I hope she finds a home for that novel she has tucked away, because I can’t wait to read it.