Left coast NP


Book of Month Review: Love Warrior


I was compelled to read Love Warrior: A Memoir after seeing an interview with author on Chelsea Handler's show. Chelsea, who is known to be a cynical and snarky comedian, expressed how after reading this memoir she was moved to tears. I figured this book must be life-changing to move Chelsea's hardened soul to tears, plus it's in Oprah's book club, so also has Oprah's stamp of approval. I finished this book several weeks ago, however am getting around to writing this review now because it took me a while to fully digest this memoir. Glennon Doyle, who has made a name for herself through her inspirational blog, accounts her inner battles including bulimia and alcoholism, and her struggle with betrayal and honesty in her marriage. Her story starts with how she from a young age feels uncomfortable with her body and fitting in, and at the age of 10 begins to binge and purge. Her parents try many times to get her professional help, and she is even hospitalized in high school. She continues to struggle in college, and on top of it develops a drinking problem. When her family begins to lose hope in her ever being able to recover, she finds out she is pregnant by her on again off again boyfriend, and decides to turn a new leaf and become a mother. Her boyfriend proposes and she marries him before the baby is born. She goes on to have two more children with her husband and stays sober, however years down the road her husband reveals he has been cheating on her with different women since day one of marriage.  During her separation, she realizes she has been avoiding getting to know herself and decides to come face to face with all the good, bad, and ugly, so to speak. I have mixed feelings regarding this memoir, and although there are many redeeming and empowering qualities to this book, I take issue with several topics it seems she has omitted or just overlooked. First off, I love Glennon's social media platform and advocacy for women's rights, empowerment, and social justice. I love that she is a member of UCC church, whom I also a member and love for the same reasons Glennon does. I love that she is so devoted to her children and raising them with social awareness. I also love that she and her now ex-husband have managed to respect and appreciate each other after his infidelities. My criticism with this memoir is  she seems to skirt around mental health, addiction, and being gay. To start, she alludes to having mental health diagnoses many times, and she even talks about her hospitalization for mental health. That being said, she never talks about ever being treated by a psychiatrist or being on any psychiatric medications, even after being hospitalized. She went to therapy many times during adolescence, however after high school she does no therapy until after she separates from her husband some 15-20 years later. As far as addiction, she labels herself a recovering alcoholic, however in the book she accounts only one AA meeting she attended while pregnant, and then quits cold turkey and never mentions again any more treatment or support with AA. As anyone who has had experience with mental health or addiction, they both require ongoing treatment and support. She does not mention any relapses, which could be entirely plausible, but it also seem highly unlikely to quit without support and never experience any relapse. Even if this was the case for Glennon, I do not think this is a good message to send her millions of followers, some of whom may struggle with mental health and addiction. Lastly, she is clearly gay or bisexual, which she does not address in the memoir, other than to mention she once thought she might be gay because of her lack of interest and connection during sex. I only found out Glennon was gay after googling her after reading the book and seeing she had married the professional soccer player Abby Wamback shortly after her divorce from her husband. I found it very odd she would come to such a huge revelation about her sexuality so quickly and not really address it at all in the book about finding herself and being true to herself. I am not in any way saying this book was not empowering or inspiring, however I think her claims of being transparent and true to herself seem very surface level without addressing these other big pieces of her life and journey. Alternatively, she may have addressed some of these things on her blog or in another book, so I plan on checking out some of her other material before I completely judge her on this one book. Anyone else read this one?

Summer Book Roundup


Because I took a slight break from blogging due to time and lack of inspiration, and thus have gone a bit off schedule on the book of the month reviews, but now am attempting to get back on track with my summer roundup. Unfortunately I have only had one opportunity this summer to sit uninterpreted by a pool and read with a physical book in hand, which happened to be on my birthday when I treated myself to a day at the spa. With a longer commute and two little ones at home I have used audible app more often to listen to books more often, which I enjoy as an alternative. My  summer reading includes a book about cancer, divorce, and the African slave trade. What better way to lighten up the summer right? So here's what I've been reading/listening to as of late.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
I had seen various recommendation online for this comprehensive history of cancer, and thought I would take a crack at this. Although an amazing read, to say this was dense is an understatement. This would have been dense had it been a history of just say breast or lung cancer, however the author tackles cancer from the very first documentation to present day, from the primitive understanding of cancer, to the advent of surgical interventions, radiation and the advancement of chemotherapy to the more recent advent of drugs targeting cancer genes. Without a background in science or medicine it may be hard to wade through a lot of the molecular biology described in this book, however the book in its entirety is not lost on a layperson. Dr. Mukherjee, the author weaves in his own patient cases and personal anecdotes on his evolving passion and relationship for cancer research. He also describes extensively the political forces behind cancer research and prevention, which was most fascinating to me, especially in regards to the tobacco industry which I believe parallels the food industry in current day (more on that in another post). This is a fantastic and ridiculously thorough examination of cancer, although do not expect to zip through this book unless you are an already trained oncologist.

I Know What I'm Doing -- and Other Lies I Tell Myself: Dispatches from a Life Under Construction Sent to me by Schuster and Simon, most likely as I have expressed my preference for memoirs on this blog. This memoir is a collection of tales of life post-divorce of Jen Kirkman, a comedy writer and stand-up comedic. Truthfully I had not seen any of her stand-up so had no pre-expectations, which was refreshing. As a forty-year old divorcee, she delves into feelings of guilt about the divorce, but also is unapologetic for leaving a marriage after a year that wasn't working, which I find is sentiment that most people refuse to admit until their marriage implodes after many years of resentment. Her perspective on divorce and breakups is they are not failures, but simply have run their course. She also challenges the status quo of being married and with children and those that think she does not have a full life without a husband or partner.   Her stories post-divorce of traveling, hook-ups, relationships and in general living alone in her forties is the anecdote to the Eat, Pray, Love memoir which I could not get through because it made me want to vomit. This is definitely a summer pool read if you like comedic memoirs.

I had heard an interview with the Author Yaa Gyasii on NPR and on the Daily Show, and was intrigued by the premise of her debut novel. From the interviews I learned grew up in Ohio and Alabama  Gyasii was daughter of immigrants from Ghana. She became inspired to write the novel after visiting the Cape Cost Castle during a visit to Ghana, used to hold slaves before shipping them out during the slave trade. This novel, a family history, is more like a collection of short stories over generation upon generation starting from tribal wars in Africa where captives were sold into the slave trade. Each vignette depicts the unique heartbreaking adversities faced in each consecutive generation, from overt torture to subtle racism. The most heart wrenching part, was how almost every generation experienced his/her family being broken or lost in some form or another. Although difficult to read (I actually listened to this one on audible and really enjoyed the narration) This book is a beautiful collection of stories of family lineage, love, and resilience.