What is a summary of Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood by Jennifer Traig?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood by Jennifer Traig, published in 2004, is a memoir about the author’s experience of living with obsessive-compulsive disorder and anorexia. It is set mainly in California in the 1980s. Traig describes the impact of her mental health conditions on her and her family. She begins by explaining the nature of scrupulosity (the specific variant of her obsessive-compulsive disorder) and its relation, for her, with Orthodox Judaism. As such, there is also a lot of information about this religion within the book, such as information about prayer guidelines and eating practices.

An interesting summary of this book would include information about the subject matter and how it relates to the author's style and techniques. The author describes her life from preschool to college, and the style is anecdotal and not clearly structured. The tone is often flippant and humorous. Along the way, as the reader learns personal details about the author’s life, there are numerous references to popular culture of the 1980s and 1990s, which help frame the story within its social context and provide a familiar setting for many readers.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"Devils in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood" was written by Jennifer Traig. The book summarizes Traig's childhood by recalling her obsessive compulsive disorder. Traig was also obsessed with religion. Traig makes some outlandish confessions throughout the book. Traig announces how she would clean for hours, wash everything she owned if she thought it had a certain smell, and would wash her hands multiple times before she would eat. It is humorous because Traig has no shame in her strange behavior. Part of Traig's religious obsession was that she believed the devil was involved in every single aspect of her life. Traig's OCD was so bad that she would second guess herself as to whether or not she hit a person while driving. Traig would drive back to her previous location over and over to check to see if someone had been hit by her car. This book is most definitely a black comedy, but is very refreshing. Traig is in constant conflict throughout the book, but interestingly, she is only fighting with herself. The book ends when she starts college and her OCD starts to fade away. Before she began her college career at Berkley, she received a year of therapy and was put on medication, which may have helped with her recovery. I would highly recommend this book! It is pretty hilarious.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial