I Know I’m Not A Cake, the debut memoir by Sarah Neal, is an eye opening autobiography based on the events of Neal’s life. Her three part book contains many social and personal issues including anxiety, depression, self harm, sexual abuse, death, prescription drug use, and many other topics. While Neal’s book contains many intense topics, they are portrayed well and provide awareness for the common problems and stresses in current teens’ lives.
Part one of the novel focuses on many different topics portrayed in the chapter titles:School, Nightmares, 27, Medicine, Mama, Movie Theatre, Tripp, and 8/13/20. These chapters give a framework for the beginning of young Neal’s life. The chapters include her young troubles with school, friends, nightmares, drug use, her mom, and her brother. Neal discusses the issues with her mom and brother, as well as how much she loves and appreciates them. The two chapters entitled “Movie Theatre” and “8/13/20” are the most heart wrenching chapters in Part One. They are the descriptions of Neal’s previous sexual abuse. While these chapters are absolutely tear-jerking, they raise awareness for sexual abuse within the teen community.
Part two speaks on mental health issues throughout Neal’s life: 0167417-0012, Adults, Suicide, Happy, Mind Your Own Business, and Small Things. This part of the book describes Neal’s decision to be admitted to the Carolina Center for Behavioral Health. She portrays how her stay was with other like-minded people and how the therapists, nurses, and doctors there helped her. Overall, at the hospital, she changed medicines, went to therapy, went to group therapy, and truly got some rest. The decision to go to the Carolina Center was not an easy one whatsoever for Neal, but it was overall a good learning and growing experience for her.
Part three was a montage of what Neal learned from her stay at the Carolina Center: Title, Father, Love, Note, Therapy, Intrusive Thoughts, Confession, and A.T.S. “Title” explains the meaning of her title; I Know I’m Not A Cake, and its relevance to her life. As for the chapters “Father”, “Love” and “Note”, they describe the impact of suicide on others and how it relates to them. “Therapy” and “Intrusive Thoughts” explains the ideas and thoughts that come through Neal’s brain on a daily basis. These show her mental illnesses and how she copes with them daily. “Confession” is a montage of Neal’s thoughts on her treatment, and how her mental health has changed over the years. This chapter overall summarizes everything that Neal has gone through and how she changed throughout her life. While this chapter seems to be the ending, one more chapter was added to conclude the book; “A.T.S.”. This chapter stands for Andrew Thomas Seagrist and is a tribute to him. Andrew Thomas Seagrist, a bright, energetic Brashier senior who tragically lost his life. The chapter discusses the loss of her dear friend Andrew suddenly, at an early age. While this chapter was emotional and filled with loss, it was an important chapter to see how her mental health was through the continuous grieving process for Andrew. Overall, this part showed Neal’s progress with her treatment, medicine, and mental health.
This three part autobiography was an eye opening book to read. It gave a glimpse of what Sarah Neal’s life has been like in her 17 years. While this book was hard to read at times due to its intense topics, it is definitely worth reading. Even though topics like anxiety, depression, self harm, sexual abuse, death, and prescription drug use are difficult to speak and learn about, teens need resources like this book to know that they are not alone in whatever they are facing.