A.G. Morgan's debut novel, Purple Angst, is an excellent study of a topic too often ignored by, well, everyone. Crippling anxiety leading to debilitating attacks and breakdowns is the major subject of this well-researched and written novel. Morgan shines a much-needed light on this affliction through her compelling and insightful story, while examining the nature of friendship, loss, betrayal and, of course, anxiety, reflective in the emotional core of this book.
Sidonia Goodman's best friend, Brenda, is dying. As she comforts her, "Sid" recalls years of friendship, and how her bond with Brenda helped her conquer her own anxiety. As she remembers how they reached this point in their lives, Sid realizes that friendship can survive even the harshest and most devastating circumstances.
Brenda has always been Sid's secret strength and now, when Brenda needs it most, Sid must give her friend strength and be there for her. For once, she cannot give into the anxieties that have plagued her since high school. As a result of these issues, Sid has made choices that were not always in her best interests - from her first sexual experience, through college, and beyond. Even as she and Brenda drifted into different life paths, their friendship remained true, despite Brenda's major betrayal with Adam, Sid's first love, resulting in the birth of their daughter, Em. Somehow, Sid finds the capacity to forgive Brenda, despite her friend knowing how much Sid cared for Adam.
Despite the betrayal, and the realization that friendship is a two-edged sword, Sid stands by her friend. Author A.G. Morgan raises an interesting conundrum in that she questions the efficacy of the friendship between the two women as beneficial to Sid, though it seems to always benefit Brenda, even at the end, but it's interesting to see how has this bond actually affected Sid's life. From teenage crushes to soul-wrenching betrayals, Purple Angst illustrates how friendship molds you into the person you eventually become - and sometimes it keeps you from being the person you were meant to be.
Morgan's story delves into all the nuances of friendship, love and sorrow, and allows her characters to grow and develop. Strengths, weaknesses, and above all the power of their bonds are at the core of this novel. One of its strengths is how Morgan describes the debilitating affect that anxiety has on Sid, everywhere from the simple task of deciding on an outfit to wear, to making major life choices. Her descriptions rip away any façade and go beneath into Sid's psyche, revealing a devastating condition that affects all levels of her life, and also demonstrates how Brenda initially helps her deal with the condition.
The novel's themes are deep, but there is also an abiding love that exists among the characters. Despite the somber realization that one of the main characters is on her deathbed, the book also brings optimistic resonance. Regardless of everything else, Sid must come to terms with her anxiety, and step outside her troubles to care for and console Brenda's child. As Brenda is dying, Sid grows into her new self.
A.G. Morgan holds a Master's Degree from Pace University. She is currently a special education teacher in the Westchester area, and studying Administration and Supervision at Hunter College in New York City.