Reading

Review of Glennon Doyle’s feminist memoir “Untamed”

Glennon Doyle’s Untamed was my Book of the Month Club pick for May, and I’ve been delaying writing a review for it because I have mixed feelings about it, but those are the important ones, so here it is:

I loved the beginning. She drew me right in with her short essay-like chapters about feminism, marriage, and motherhood. I could relate to so much. Then there were parts in the middle where she sort of lost me for a bit. She spent a lot of time repeating the same tidbits of self-exploration. And I love me some self-exploration, but eventually, I need out of my head and your head and back into an actual scene.

There are several chapters that focus on religion and spirituality, and as a sometimes-agnostic/sometimes-atheist, I resisted those at first. But she also presents religion in the most accessible way I’ve ever seen it presented—comparing God/spirituality to a liquid and religion to the glass that holds and confines it. This stirred something in me since most of us who have bad tastes in our mouths over these subjects are opposed to the rules and prejudices inherent in the institutions of religion, rather than spirituality itself.

There are some preachy this-is-what-you-should-say-to-your-children-and-to-everyone-else moments, which occasionally rubbed me the wrong way, but there’s also SO much good advice in here. My favorite takeaway from this book is the concept of “sinking into your Knowing,” which is the place where we find truth inside ourselves to do the next right thing (cue the Frozen 2 song).

She also delves into the concept of the perfect woman, who is beautiful, smart, funny, the perfect size, perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect friend, and who has all of her perfect shit together. But this woman doesn’t exist, Doyle points out. We’re all scared and lonely and suffering and sweaty and misshapen and longing. So when we aspire to be this mysterious perfect woman, we’re all just chasing ghosts.

Finally, Doyle explores racism in a way that is especially appropriate right now, pointing out that’s it’s not enough to simply say you’re not a racist—you must recognize the poison in your own blood that was put there by living in a racist society, and then actively root it out.

This book felt important. The kind of book you realize you should have read with a highlighter. So I may return to reread it some day and do just that.

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