We’ve all been there, right? That teenage rite-of-passage of staring dolefully in the mirror as we pick and poke and pop those pimples into submission. But for comedy writer Laura Chinn, acne wasn’t just a few years of adolescent misery, but a decades-long struggle with a severe skin condition that was always, always on her mind. Parents get divorced? Wish my skin was clearer! Brother diagnosed with a brain tumor? Why can’t my skin be as clear as his? As Chinn poignantly writes, “out of all the other tragedies of my childhood, the acne was the loudest and most obnoxious.”
Acne: A Memoir is about growing up with a psychologically damaging skin condition and all the various methods Chinn tried to cure it from the suicide-ideation inducing Accutane to a Scientology health regime called Purif. But that’s not the whole story. What’s a memoir without suitably wacky parents to lend some incredulity? Or some adolescent hijinks? Or heartfelt scenes of love and forgiveness?
From her loving, misguided mother giving her cigarettes on her 12th birthday to her teenaged dabble with jello wrestling. Chinn shares her story with humor, vulnerability and compassion for her younger self who would have given anything at all for clear skin.