Review: Crowning Glory by Stacy Harshman

★★★★½  Crowning Glory by Stacy Harshman

Crowning Glory: An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise by Stacy Harshman is an original and laugh-out-loud memoir.

Stacy Harshman, an unemployed musician and artist, decides to embark on an experiment in hopes of coming to terms with her crippling depression, panic attacks, and psychotic breaks. The project involves wearing different wigs and eye-catching outfits. Harshman hires an assistant to keep track of the data while she parades in different parts of New York City. Will Harshman be the same after weeks of pretending to be other personas?

The e-book revolution has spurred many to pen their memoirs. This boon is good and bad. While it’s fantastic to have so many ordinary people writing about their everyday lives, it’s difficult for authors to get noticed in a genre inundated by countless books. Crowning Glory deserves to be read.

Stacy Harshman isn’t the first person to write honestly about her mental instability. But her approach makes her memoir truly unique, entertaining, funny, and heartfelt. But why did she want to wear wigs in the first place? For years, Harshman hated her hair.

To understand my excitement, you need to know that my hair has been my archenemy since the seventh grade.

One morning, around three, she purchases a long red wig. When she wears the wig in public she notices people paying attention to her and Harshman craves attention. It’s how she validates her self-worth. Throughout the memoir she reiterates this desire. Some may be turned off by her candor, but she’s upfront about her need and she’s aware it’s a problem. However, that doesn’t mean she can turn off this part of her thinking. This experiment highlights her own attention seeking behavior, but it also shines a light on how random people react to a stranger based on their looks.

Fortunately, Harshman hires Bonnie, an insightful and loyal spy. While she’s loyal, she’s also brutally honest with Harshman and provides a much-needed reality check. Wearing wigs isn’t the author’s first attempt to get a grip on her life.

I went to private therapy and searched for the roots of my suffering. I danced out my anger in my home and drew pictures of my pain in group therapy. I did yoga. I read up on Buddhism, philosophy, the laws of universal attraction, and all sorts of new-age ways to think happy thoughts, but I kept sinking.

The author’s method of dealing with her issues is quirky and more than likely won’t work for everyone. But following her journey offers hope that the answer to mental health isn’t always black and white. Sometimes a person has to think outside of the box to find their path to happiness.

It’s interesting as the story progresses to see how Harshman’s mindset changes or doesn’t change depending on the reader’s viewpoint. This is the type of book that will impact individuals differently considering each reader brings their own personal baggage into the disguise gambit. While her approach to dealing with life may not appeal to everyone, the reading experience is hard to forget.

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Crowning glory: An experiment in self-discovery through disguise

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