It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Never After (audio book)

It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Never After by Andi Dorfman; 2016

I searched high and low for a free or heavily discounted copy of It’s Not Okay. Much to my disappointment (but not exactly surprise) neither of the two library systems where I have memberships carry this book. Heh. I flat-out refused to contribute to this book’s revenue, but my curiosity about it was extreme. Eventually I found a solution: Audible free trail. 100% worth it. In reading other people’s reviews of It’s Not Okay, a lot of people commented on the poor writing. The benefit of listening to this book on tape is that it feels more like a podcast, and you don’t notice the quality of the writing. The major con, of course, is that I never, ever want to hear Andi’s voice ever again.

It’s Not Okay is supposed to function (I guess) as sort of a part memoir of Andi Dorfman’s relationship that resulted from the Bachelorette, part how-to-guide to surviving a break up. Andi “dishes” about her relationship with Josh, the winner of her season, and the aftermath of their public break up. If you’re looking for behind-the-scenes Bachelor Intel, you will be disappointed 😦

Where to begin. I have a lot of thoughts about this, but am going to try to condense them into just a few bullet points.

  • We get it. Andi drinks a TON of wine. Literally wakes up, rolls over, and drinks. I guess this is supposed to make her relatable to the average woman in her twenties? IDK, that’s not my life.
  • Andi is really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really bitter about her Bachelor/Bachelorette experience
  • Designer clothes and shoes = life
  • It’s okay to reduce every single ex-boyfriend you’ve ever had to “douche bag, douche bag #2, POS, etc.”
  • Ditto for calling every female who isn’t your BFF skank, or some variety of skank
  • Her vocab is LARGELY four-letter words. I don’t have a problem with swearing, but when it’s every 10 words, yeah, that’s a little much
  • Sorry, but if you put this much energy into writing a book about how much you hate your ex and publish it, then I just kind of feel like you’re not really over it…

By the end of It’s Not Okay, you will realize that according to Andi, she has been a victim of the entire world, and everyone is out to get her. She was not one half of a relationship that failed, but a victim of a failed relationship who is only about 5% to blame for its demise. SIGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Andi’s break up advice adds up to being generic and a giant cliché: eat until you can’t fit into your jeggings, watch Judge Judy, burn his stuff, drink wine all da err’day, etc. The only practical thing I learned is that Nick was kind of a psycho after the show, which he doesn’t even deny in this past season of Paradise. So that was funny. Ultimately, Andi comes off as vindictive, self-absorbed, and shallow. All I could think about when I was listening to this was wow, this is really embarrassing. Writing this kind of book about her ex-boyfriend, which wasn’t even really a tell-all but a big eff-you to Josh, just screams of not being over her past relationship. And is – obviously – an extremely petty and immature move. Perhaps because she’s making bank off of this she doesn’t care, but the content of this book actually completely contradicts its intended message. Problematic.

A note on Andi’s musings on the double standards between men v. women having sex on TV/rebounding from a relationship. Andi’s just not about this double standard. **SPOILER ALERT** This isn’t a new idea, and no girl is about it. But what really, REALLY got me was when she went on a long rant about how Nick called her out for “making love” with him on national TV without her consent to talk about it. But then she writes about her “relapse” with Josh a couple of months after they broke up. I’m guessing she didn’t get his consent to write about that. Double standard, no?

And, finally, the absolutely most hilarious part of this book is that Andi tries to convince us that she accidentally ended up on Juan Pablo’s season without even trying a little bit. She merely showed up for the casting call because she wanted free drinks. OKAY, SURE. I 100% believe that that is true.

Yes, this is terrible. But if you’re a monster Bachelor fan I highly recommend it.

-M

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Quick Review: Furiously Happy

Title: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things

Author: Jenny Lawson

Published: 2015

The down low: Furiously Happy is Lawson’s second memoir. Her first, Let’s Pretend this Never Happened, was published in 2012 and quickly became a New York Times Bestseller.

Summary in 2 sentences: Furiously Happy centers on Lawson’s lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety, with hilarious interludes about her love for taxidermy-ed roadkill. Her wildly entertaining arguments with her therapist and husband are documented as entire chapters.

Why you should read it: I would highly recommend Furiously Happy to anyone who has struggled with anxiety or depression, or anyone who has watched a family member or friend struggle with mental illness. The title comes from a blog post Lawson wrote about refusing to surrender to her mental illness and instead, vowing to be Furiously Happy. You can read her entertaining blog here: http://www.theblogess.com.

Read it if you liked: Let’s Pretend this Never Happened or Hyperbole and a Half.

-A

What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love

What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love by Carole Radziwill; 2005

I’m a Real Housewives addict, and have been for years. Like an embarrassing amount of years. When Carole Radziwill joined the cast of the NYC wives a few years ago, she was a refreshingly level-headed voice of reason. Here was a woman who had a real career: a former award-winning ABC News producer turned writer. Carole also has ties to the Kennedy family. She was married to Anthony Radziwill, a prince (of Poland), and the cousin of John F. Kennedy Jr. John’s wife, Carolyn Bessette, was Carole’s best friend.

What Remains has been circled around in the housewives for a few years, which is where I first heard about the memoir. What Remains focuses on the summer in “year five” of Anthony’s fatal battle with cancer. That summer was intended to be spent at Martha’s  Vineyard with John and Carolyn, while Anthony was most certainly losing his battle with cancer. Within three weeks, Carole lost her husband and two best friends.

Carole met Anthony at ABC News, where they were both producers. Their romance was slow-burning, and Anthony ultimately proposed after he discovered he had a relapse with cancer. From there their lives revolved around cancer treatments, recovery, and relapse – rinse and repeat for five years. Anthony’s spirit during the majority of this time is admirable, if not heartbreaking in hindsight; he maintains a plucky, fighting spirit throughout most of his sickness, but often seemed to be in denial. John and Carolyn are beside Carole and Anthony throughout the cancer, and Carolyn is Carole’s main confidante.

“I had prepared for the approaching sorrow, but not, as it turned out, for the one that was nearest.” The week before July 16, 1999, John and Carole would talk late about night about Anthony’s impending funeral arrangements and the eulogy that John had already written for Anthony. Then, Carole received a phone call in the middle of the night: John and Carolyn had never arrived from their expected flight. A few days later, their plane is discovered in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Vineyard. In the very few weeks remaining in Anthony’s life, Carole and Anthony spend it mourning the loss of their best friends. Three weeks later, Anthony lost his battle to cancer.

A side note: what I really appreciated about this memoir – apart from its honesty – was that it was not about name-dropping. Carole occasionally refers to her ties to fame on the housewives, but its hardly the center of her story. Similarly, in What Remains, Carole writes a lot about how she, and even Carolyn, were removed rom the “inner circle” of Kennedys; Carole and Carolyn each had distinctly drawn roles of wives and in-laws, often outside of the immediate family. Often, Carole seems uncomfortable around her in-laws.

I’ll admit that I mostly read this because I was curious about Carole’s writing; I wasn’t blown away, but she is certainly a graceful, talented, and efficient writer. She is definitely admirable for all that she has gone through and achieved.

This memoir was, obviously, extremely sad all around and depressing. It was so jarring to read about Carolyn and John’s seemingly idyllic life and their aid to Anthony, when they were closer to death than he was. The sadness resonated with me even more when I considered that Carole has never remarried, and is still affected by the loss of her husband and friends. A recommended read for Carole Radziwill fans.

Open

I had held off on reading this book for numerous reasons. The cover bothered me, I thought it would be boring, and I wasn’t all the familiar with Andre Agassi. Overtime I saw this book in the middle of my (rather daunting) to read pile, I asked myself why I even bothered to snatch it up at the book sale last year. Then I started to read it.

For a ninth grade dropout, Andre Agassi can write. I will admit that I was biased from the beginning because I love tennis. While I did find his descriptions of tennis matches amazing, I can see how some people wouldn’t. What I really loved about this book, however, was Agassi’s full commitment to being “open.” He tells the brutally honest story of growing up and hating tennis, his brief stint with drugs, and his failed marriage to Brooke Shields.

Perhaps most importantly in the book, and in Agassi’s life, is his charity work (besides his gorgeous family with current wife and tennis queen, Steffi Graf). Agassi built a charter school for underprivileged children in Nevada, his home state. For a lot of Agassi’s career, he couldn’t motivate himself. He writes about how he was disappointed to reach number 1 because it was never his goal, and that he did not know what his goal was. When he began to play for something bigger then himself, however, he found his stride. Once Agassi began fundraising, every game he played was for the kids who would one day attend his school. This was the motivation that had been missing from Agassi’s life previously.

Andre ends his autobiography with a word of encouragement to his children: “I hope it [Open] will be one of many books that give them comfort, guidance, pleasure. I was late in discovering the magic of books. Of all my many mistakes that I want my children to avoid, I put that one near the top of the list.”

I put this book near the top of my list of favorite books I read this summer/year. I would definitely recommend it to any tennis fans out there. I finished it just in time for Wimbledon! #win

Why Not Me?

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling; 2015

IMG_3936To begin, I think Mindy is incredible, amazing, and very inspirational. She has accomplished SO MUCH and she has worked extremely hard for everything that she has achieved. I felt so-so about Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me?, but I genuinely loved Why Not Me? Her second book is a lot more honest and insightful than its predecessor. It also made me laugh out loud many more times. Why Not Me? is another collection of personal essays held together by the larger theme that Mindy’s life has change a lot in the past three years now that she has her own TV show. She writes a lot about work and being in the writer’s room, which I enjoyed and appreciated. She also talks frankly about friendships, dating, being in the public eye, her body image, and her sense of self. Apart from that, my favorite essay was the romantic comedy/alternate history to her own life which is hysterical and also just a really good piece of writing that makes me wish she’ll write fiction.

My favorite piece of wisdom was this little bit near the end, when Mindy calls out undeserved confidence: “Confidence is just entitlement…simply the belieg that you deserve something. Which is great. The hard part is, you’d better make sure you deserve it…Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled.” Preach, girlfriend.

-M

Not That Kind of Girl

Lena Dunham; 2014

I’ll start with two small prefaces.

  1. I don’t have strong feelings about Dunham one way or another. I watched a season and a half of Girls, at first enthusiastically, and then a lot less so. I admire everything that she has accomplished as a young writer. I do see why so many people seem to find her unbearable. Personally, I think she’s young, has talent, and still has a lot to figure out. I’m giving her a pass. It’s difficult for me to be too critical of someone who puts it all out there.
  2. I read a lot of reviews on Goodreads for NTKOG before sitting down to write this, and I have a small bone to pick. Dunham can’t help who are parents are or where she comes from. Just because she’s privileged doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be allowed to write or create. I read a lot of reviews on Goodreads that implied that she hasn’t “suffered” enough to have a leg to stand on when it comes to writing. I don’t think this is fair. She obviously has talent, and she’s unapologetic for it, which is probably where she gets herself into trouble.

Okay.

I didn’t have a visceral reaction to this book like so many reviewers seemed to, although I can certainly understand the grounds for these reactions. There are definitely parts of NTKOG that made me cringe (and not in the intentional way that she wants, like with the sex scenes in Girls). I gave credit to Dunham that Girls was self-indulgent because she was trying to prove a point. I still believe this is true, but now I’m really narrowing my eyes at her, because this book is self-indulgent as hell. It’s a memoir, which is tricky because I guess memoirs are self-indulgent by nature. She also cops to her self-centeredness several times, but does that really make it any better? If the self-absorbedness led to advice or a lesson (like, don’t so self-absorbed), that would be one thing. But when it comes to advice or wisdom, Not That Kind of Girl doesn’t have any.

I was surprised and disappointed to see that there were so many essays about BOYS. Here’s a young woman who has accomplished so much in her life before the age of thirty, and she devoted probably 70% of her memoir to writing about her attraction to the wrong kind of guy. I don’t care about reading about every single relationship or non-relationship or sexual exploit that Dunham has ever experienced in her entire life. I want to read about her writing process, what it’s like to have to take command of a writer’s room, actually developing Girls, etc. It’s hard to believe a woman who calls herself a feminist when most of her book is about men. And, actually, writing about that stuff makes her exactly that kind of girl.