Let me start off by saying I received an Advanced Reader Copy for this book. That said, my review is honest. Like this book.
It’s difficult to give an a complete review on this book without mentioning Glennon Doyle Melton’s previous book, Carry On, Warrior.
I enjoyed Carry On, Warrior, but I felt it was missing something. It preached honesty and self-acceptance, but I finished the book feeling either Glennon was holding back, or, her life wasn’t really as “messy” as she claimed. One of my major problems with the book was that she spoke a lot about her addictions and mental health issues, but didn’t go into it. It left me feeling like she just woke up one morning and decided to be a better person, and–POOF!–sober and no longer bulimic! The book felt a little dishonest, whether it was because she was withholding information, or because it wasn’t really as bad as she led on, I didn’t know.
Now, I realize, I was looking at the book the wrong way. Carry On, Warrior is not a memoir. It is a collection of essays (some, taken directly from her blog) held together with a common theme: embrace your life, flaws and all. It isn’t meant to be about her problems. It’s a lifesaver tossed out to an overwhelmed mom, drowning in the expectations placed on her to be a “perfect mom” and a “perfect wife” and a “perfect person.” Glennon’s anecdotes are meant to help show others, “It’s okay! I’m a mess, too!” But, it wasn’t a memoir.
Love Warrior is a memoir. It’s not a compilation of feel good stories to comfort the reader. It’s not a cheerfully, “life-is-absurd-so-let’s-just-laugh,” book about marriage. It’s a raw, and truly honest, look at a marriage facing ruin. It’s about how marriage is the union of two people, both carrying their own baggage. Those two people don’t leave their baggage at the door. They bring it into the house with them. They open those suitcases, pull out all their crap (issues), and either hang them neatly (and hidden) in the closet, or toss them on floor so everyone keeps tripping over them. Where as before, each person only had their own “crap” to deal with, now they have their spouse’s, as well.
The book starts at the beginning and adds in all that back story I felt was missing from the previous book. To understand Glennon’s marriage, she first asks you to understand her. She talks about her childhood, and reflects on what lead her on the path of bulimia and addiction. She then shares her experiences, struggles and the shame associated with it. Glennon makes sure you know “who,” and “where” she was in her life when she met Craig. Then, she starts at the beginning, again, but, this time, it’s the beginning of her relationship with Craig. Knowing how they met, how they started dating, and why they got married helps to better understand the present state of their marriage.
Glennon does not hold anything back. Not a thing.
While Carry On, Warrior is full of hope, Love Warrior feels more cynical. While it does end on a high note, there’s no closure. It’s as if we’ve reached the end of the beginning. Here was a giant obstacle, we’ve scaled it, and now, we’re on the other side. To be continued….
But, if you are a follower of Glennon Doyle Melton, you know it was really just the beginning of the end. She announced a week or so ago she has decided to seek a divorce. Those who have not read her book, yet, might be shocked, but I wasn’t.
It takes a lot of courage to write a story like this. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it would be to sit down and type out all those things you don’t want to think about, all those horrible experiences and feelings that most people hide from themselves and others. But, I also think, “how liberating!” When you don’t have secrets, you are never worried of being “found out.” When you confess and accept yourself at your worst, you protect yourself from the judgments of others. What can someone say about you that you haven’t already said?
Honesty is more than just telling the truth. It’s looking beyond your own perspective and seeing the situation as a whole. It’s being angry, and yet, still being able to admit you may be wrong. It’s seeing that there are no “villains” and that everyone is doing their best just to get by. Glennon doesn’t just unpack her baggage and lay everything out neatly for everyone to see. She also shakes out Craig’s bag. She doesn’t kick his crap around on the floor, though. She lines it up neatly next to hers. Does she judge him? Of course she does! She’s been hurt! But, does she also take a step back and see that he, too, is only human? Yes. Does she do her best to treat him with the same respect she treats herself? Yes.
This isn’t a happy book. It’s not a self-help book for those wanting to work on their marriage. It offers no advice, and takes no stance for or against divorce. It’s just a thoughtful and honest portrayal of a troubled marriage.