My Body Is a Book of Rules

Current Stock:
UPC: 9781597099691
Gift Wrapping: Gift Wrapping Available
Author: Elissa Washuta
Out of stock
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Red Hen Press; 1 edition (August 12, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597099694
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597099691
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.7 x 10 inches

As Elissa Washuta makes the transition from college kid to independent adult, she finds herself overwhelmed by the calamities piling up in her brain. When her mood-stabilizing medications aren’t threatening her life, they’re shoving her from depression to mania and back in the space of an hour. Her crisis of American Indian identity bleeds into other areas of self-doubt; mental illness, sexual trauma, ethnic identity, and independence become intertwined. Sifting through the scraps of her past in seventeen formally inventive chapters, Washuta aligns the strictures of her Catholic school education with Cosmopolitan’s mandates for womanhood, views memories through the distorting lens of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and contrasts her bipolar highs and lows with those of Britney Spears and Kurt Cobain. Built on the bones of fundamental identity questions as contorted by a distressed brain, My Body Is a Book of Rules pulls no punches in its self-deprecating and ferocious look at human fallibility.


“You should have [My Body Is a Book of Rules] on your radar now. . . . Washuta’s story is . . . an ultra-modern take on contemporary femininity, mental illness, and identity.”
Cosmopolitan, “12 Memoirs by Women That Will Get You Through Anything”

“In a reliably honest, original and frank fashion, Washuta’s ruminations lift the veil of her chronic (and highly medicated) bouts of mental illness to reveal the confused, frenetic and often traumatic reality of living with overwhelming bouts of depression and mania.”
Kirkus Review

“Although Washuta’s story is not an easy read, the fact that Washuta has been able to build a life for herself is a credit to her fierce strength. It’s one that parents, educators, mental health providers, and young women will find immensely valuable.”
Publishers Weekly

“Elissa Washuta is an extraordinarily original and gifted writer, and My Body Is a Book of Rules is an extraordinarily original and often brilliant book. Its formal innovations are in the service of a sustained and powerful investigation of body in relation to mind, and body in relation to culture.”
―David Shields
My Body Is a Book of Rules chronicles the Chutes and Ladders-style descent into the body and ascent out through the head that is our present coming-of-age myth. A sweet soul will spill out; they just do. We’re lucky that every now and then, someone as thoughtful as Elissa Washuta takes the time to record what this feels like.”
―Kristin Hersh of the band Throwing Muses and author of the memoir Rat Girl

“Bodies are us. And not. How do we figure out which is which? Elissa Washuta takes you on a fearless ride of sex, drugs, mood disorders, self-improvement, dieting, internet dating, ethnic identity, and why she isn’t Catholic anymore. My Body Is a Book of Rules is a funny, scary, unpredictable book; it reads like the inside of your own head.”
―Sallie Tisdale
 “A genre-bending ode to the bi-polar brain, Washuta’s venomous, lyrical chapters link to form a memoir that’s daring, vulnerable, caustic, and raw. Reading this book, you find yourself in a staring contest with a writer who won’t look away―not from her devastating betrayals of body and brain, nor the chronic search for a chemical cure. She explores the nuances of blood quantum, Cosmo, catechism, psychotherapy, promiscuity, fencing, and Law & Order SVU in a voice that embraces its self-deprecating, self-destructive, humorous, bedazzled contradictions.”
―Nicole Hardy


Elissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a nonfiction writer. She is the author of two books, Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules, named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, 4Culture, Potlatch Fund, and Hugo House. Elissa is an assistant professor of creative writing at the Ohio State University.