#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine Book Pick In her most revealing and powerful memoir yet, the activist, speaker, bestselling author, and "patron saint of female empowerment" (People) explores the joy and peace we discover when we stop striving to meet others' expectations and start trusting the voice deep within us. "Untamed will liberate women--emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It is phenomenal."--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of City of Girls and Eat Pray Love This is how you find yourself. There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn't it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent--even from ourselves. For many years, Glennon Doyle denied her own discontent. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. But she soon realized they had come to her from within. This was her own voice--the one she had buried beneath decades of numbing addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl she had been before the world told her who to be. Glennon decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world's expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living. Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member's ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is. Untamed shows us how to be brave. As Glennon insists: The braver we are, the luckier we get.
This is as good a description of this whole book, except for the few and far between memoir sections, as I could write. She is lecturing us, prescribing for us, because she knows better.
By the end, I'm sorry, but I couldn't stand her. And today I see it's at the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Who are all these people who want to be preached at?
Ms. Doyle doesn’t only discuss her bisexuality and it’s implications but many emotional circumstances which affect all kinds of humans.
The thing that I question is how many people we’re hurt for her to find her true self. It’s a delicate balance and one wonders just how much should be suppressed. What do I know, I know nothing. Everybody has to choose what is right for them. Just a thought.
I listened to the audio version but yearned to grab a book and hilight this, that or the other thing. A hard copy is definitely on my “To buy” list.
I really enjoyed this book, here are a few favorite passages:
"We do not need more selfless women. What we need right now is more women who have detoxed themselves so completely from the world's expectations that they are full of nothing but themselves. What we need are women who are full of themselves,"
"I've got these conditions--anxiety, depression, addiction---and they almost killed me. But they are also my superpowers. The sensitivity that led me to addiction is the same sensitivity that makes me a really good artist. The anxiety that makes it difficult to exist in my own skin also makes it difficult to exist in a world where so many people are in so much pain--and that makes me a relentless activist. The fire that burned me up for the first half of my life is the exact same fire I'm using now to light up the world."
"I have noticed that it seems easier for the world to love a suffering woman than it is for the world to love a joyful, confident woman."
I have mixed feelings about this book and its author. Ms Doyle's experiences are somewhat relateable. She makes excellent points about the life of women and how we are all subject to unconscious bias when it comes to women who are sure of themselves and know what they want. All of us label them as aggressive and they are faced with dislike even from their sisters. I understand the urge to keep our wild, and the need to raise our children to live their own destiny, to be held and free at the same time.
But even as I admire her work as a volunteer and activist, and even as I cheer for her modern concept of family, I am not sure I could relate fully to her constant insitence on KNOWING. There is too much prolytesizing and bids for one-upmanship, too many excuses for past opinions and backpedaling from past knowings, and not much room for a healthy margin of doubt. I am happy that things worked for her for now, but for some of us finding grace takes a lot longer, and it is more about accepting failure and not-knowing, rather than finding a magical spell that solves everything.
I am uncomfortable around people who insist on KNOWING, who constantly need to bow to some sort of divinity, whether it is within or without. I am still searching myself, and if I bow to the divinity of knowing, to love, to acceptance, or to anything that I find within, I always accept that this could be transient. I am never sure whether this will be my ultimate knowing or just the-best-of-my-knowledge-for-now. I am happy with the not-knowing and curious about what I will learn next. This saves a lot of future backpedaling.
My approach to life is different from what she suggests, but hers is useful for what she is doing. I am still searching for an approach that will work for me. I am curiosity, doubt, not-knowing. I bumble along in my life doing what is right-for-now, which might very well turn out to be utterly wrong tomorrow.
I could write a story about this, but never a book of advice, because I want to be able to change my mind, as I know I will.
There are a lot of problems with this book, and I haven't entirely teased them apart, but I'm going to try. Some reviewers have criticized Doyle because she's an entitled white woman writing for other entitled white women. There's more than a grain of truth to that, but it's not quite it. My overwhelming sense is that she's a well off white woman who only recently really got into the depths of systemic issues in this country. Unfortunately, she already had a platform to speak from, so what we got was to watch her process, instead of seeing the results of sustained work. All I can say about that was that as a woman who knew by the age of 16 that she was never going to perform womanhood and femininity in the socially approved manner, I could not really relate. It's not simply a question of anger; I'm angry and disappointed every day. It's just evident that this is not something she has knowingly lived with in her bones for 27 years. She was a feminist, yes, but that connection doesn't seem to have existed for her until she got older.
I'm a huge fan of memoirs. I love listening to or reading people's stories. Doyle has writing talent, she has a story, and she shows insight when it comes to recovery. Real things have happened to her; it's not one of those books where someone who's never had a problem is telling you how to be perfect. At the same time, she turns that insight off too often. A story about letting her child try out for an elite soccer team is supposed to be empowering, about putting aside your own feelings in favor of what's best for your child. Instead it wound up leaving a bitter taste in my mouth about the unexamined privilege, or her lack of consideration of all the options available. All too often, her stories are told in a way that turns them into hectoring lectures, like taking phones away from kids. There's some attempts at softening it with humor or self deprecation, but too often--as with her mediocrity opening to the soccer story--it feels like a way to refocus everything on her rather than a real joke.
All of Doyle's stories have a point, which is to launch into her breed of self help, and I hated it. Everything is about you. Your Knowing. Be a cheetah! It's supposed to be about being an empowered woman, but it made me tired and sad. First, I hate vague, woo-wooey language. Second, Knowing is sometimes how you delude yourself. More importantly, though, this feels like just another variant of the usual women's self help: the message that YOU are in control. You are responsible for your happiness and your happiness comes first. The idea that we are in control of our destinies is the great lie America tells white people. The tension for white women is that we are simultaneously told that we are responsible for our happiness but that we should find it in making other people happy, regardless of the cost to ourselves. Doyle has discovered the lie of the second half, but doesn't address the second.
Doyle also has a tendency to use jokes that make her sound like, frankly, an asshole: I'm not a good friend and I don't try. Is she really? I don't know, but it's not the greatest tone to strike. She's also gone on to a pretty privileged life of famous friends and activism, which she's not shy about name dropping. Added to her tendency to lecture, and it sometimes crosses the line into "I'm descending from my enlightened plane to drop advice to you, mere mortals." (I'm unfair; it's really not nearly that bad in tone, but she's really not bridging the gap between herself and her readers. One of us, she is not.)
I think I want to rate this book 2 1/2. Parts of it were good, but it read much like a self-help book. It also seemed preachy at times.