For Women Everywhere, A Collection Of Fierce And Often Funny Personal Essays On Finding Enough, From Writer Shauna M Ahern, Of Gluten Free Girl FameLike So Many American Women, Shauna M Ahern Spent Decades Feeling Not Good Enough About Her Body, About Money, And About Her Worth In This Culture For A Decade, With The Help Of Her Husband, She Ran A Successful Food Blog, Wrote Award Winning Cookbooks, And Raised Two Children In The Midst Of This, At Age , She Suffered A Mini Stroke Tests Revealed She Would Recover Fully, But When Her Doctor Impressed Upon Her That Emotional Stress Can Cause Physical Damage, She Dove Deep Inside Herself To Understand And Let Go Of A Lifetime Of Damaging Patterns Of Thought With Candor And Humor, Ahern Traces The Arc Of Her Life In Essays, Starting With The Feeling Of Not Good Enough Which Was Sown In A Traumatic Childhood And Dogged Her Well Into Adulthood She Writes About Finding Her Rage, Which Led Her To Find Her Enduring Motto Enough Pretending And She Chronicles How These Phases Have Opened The Door To Living Joyfully Today With Mostly Enough Friends, Family, And Her CommunityReaders Will Be Moved By Ahern S Brave Stories They Will Also Find Themselves In These Essays, Since We All Have To Find Our Own Definition Of Enough Ever wonder what happens when a teenage girl doesn t outgrow her not like other girls phase You get this book Ahern comes across as petty, misogynistic, and self important in this painful, bratty memoir. Poorly written, annoying, and pretentious. Took me a bit to get into this because someone story telling in a self help kind of way isn t my kind of book Her story was sad growing up and her child skull issues frightening She went through a lot and came out okay at the end The writing was good but as I said I m not a fan of this book at times I caught myself falling asleep This book wasn t for me I ve followed Ahern s writing since her Gluten Free Girl days and watched her grow into a writer with a clear, lucid, heart filled, honest voice I along with countless others am a serious fan of the new Shauna, who shares candid, messy, sometimes transcendent moments from her life as a mom, wife, writer, cook, and community member on Vachon Island, WA, along with social commentary from a feminist perspective Go, Shauna So I was shocked when I saw very poor early reviews on Goodreads for this new memoir and I wondered how on earth that could be The Washington Posthas since published a very positive review Ok, I ve just finished it and I have a theory This bookis so brave The whole first section shares the traumatic pain she experienced through childhood, teen and young adult years I won t share any spoilers, save to make note of her wording in the introduction, which kind of tipped me off And for my parents, whom I know do love me I know now they did the best they could Oh, dear.I can t imagine how painful it was for her to process and write about this And to me that and want of a superb editor, no offense may explain why the first section of the book is so awkwardly, frustratingly organized, with lots of inexplicable switching back and forth in time You know how some books flip time very effectively This isn t one of them But by the time we get past the core traumatic experiences of her early life, she starts to sail as a writer I found myself savoring her prose, her honesty, and especially her ability to reveal the awe in the everyday for which I and so many others love her When I was stuck in the doldrums after the beginning of the book, my dear friend Rebecca said, just keep going, Jo I would offer the same advice to you. What a mess Wonderful, sweet, often scary mess a journey a life There s no structure to this memoir meets personal essays collection, but there s no structure to life either I would know that best Ahern mentions towards the end of the book that she is 52 I m 42 and this book makes me look forward to my fifties, when hopefully I, too, will find my enough. A good bit of the reason I wanted to read this book is that I had read Ahern s earlier memoir self help book, Gluten Free Girl How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back And How You Can Too ten years ago and in it, she hints about her childhood in a way that made me think it was less than rosy but didn t really get into it I am a memoir lover I ve read over 35 this year alone so I picked it up right away wanting to know .She certainly does flesh out her childhood in this memoir but unfortunately, it is in a clunky way that raises questions than answers Some most of her stories just don t sound quite right For example, we are to believe that she had a gym teacher in the 1970s who insists that the sole activities the class can do for the entire year are jump rope for girls and baseball for boys This is solved by young Shauna marching into her principal s office and reciting the Title IX ruling Obviously, children s memories can be faulty but this and many other stories of her elementary school life are so implausible as to be a bit ridiculous Why include them Any adult knows these stories don t ring true at all Why didn t she ask her mother who is still living, as is her father about these times Or think critically about them and realize that at age 6 it may have seemed like it she taught reading while the teacher took a break but that it was likely that the children took turns reading while the teacher sat in the back of the room She tells stories about how unpopular, unsocialized and friendless she was but then reveals that she started a Beatles club in the 1980s that had nearly 90 members and slumber parties and even formed a band with her brother and her friends She is even friends with at least one of these women today I think she still suffers from what I think of as missing out syndrome where a child thinks everyone is having fun without them when really they are reading a book and going to bed at 8 pm as well The stories of her college years and young adulthood similarly sound like exaggerations for effect Her story about how she became inspired to write this book sounds off to me too she has a mini stroke TIA yet her doctor says she is in top shape in every way then later in the book she says she lowered her blood pressure and cholesterol quite substantially after the TIA so which is it and that she should really be looking into her life for ways she can improve He asks her What s keeping from her from sleeping soundly Does she have stress she can alleviate Then he asks Where in your life are you not feeling good enough which in the setting a doctor s office after a TIA clearly comes across as the doctor asking her how she can improve her physical health Most people would probably answer I could exercise to reduce stress, increase my cardiac health and help my sleep but Ahern sees it as a call to examine why she has never felt like enough in her personal life Either she grossly misinterpreted her doctor s question or she is fabricating a colorful backstory for this latest memoir.The essay about her failed gluten free flour business is really appalling She freely admits to doing little research before starting a Kickstarter campaign that nets her 92,000 She claims that no one told her that you would spend all that money on thank you rewards This is obviously not true because she set the awards up herself before the campaign went live and in no way did they equal over 92k She talks about google being her best friend and how she spends her time looking up things like shipping, how to set up a business account, trademarking, all after she accepts the Kickstarter money Some error apparently goes unnoticed for a long time one can only assume because she has zero clue what she is doing which results in her not collecting shipping money from the orders and she decides to shut down the business and that she isn t made for running a business That s incredibly evident but a conclusion she could have reached by actually researching anything about the flour business before starting it and taking 92K of other people s money It s really gross and she even mentions that s it is easy to start a business if you have a trust fund but come on, she had 92K from complete strangers, was broke so didn t invest any of her own money and took out zero business loans not a trust fund but no that far off either.Her money woes are evident again in the essay about her brief stint working in a grocery store bakery I m glad she accepted that she needed to take a regular job to pay the bills and get insurance for her children but the whole essay smacks of poverty tourism She ends it by saying she left the store for a better paying gig then another when that one ended and that her husband only works a few days a week for the community vs needing the money It really came across as gross and condescending to people who actually work in grocery stores for than just a fill gap lark She blames her mother for virtually everything that went wrong in her life from her protracted virginity to where she went to college but never places any blame on her father who had at least one affair, and did things like dragging his agoraphobic wife to live in a stranger s house in England and then let her keep the children out of school for company when he wouldn t let her go home to California Her parents are still together so he was there her entire childhood he even coached her team I can see how this was rough on her as a child but as an adult, you d think she d have a nuanced view of the situation She does not.She has some real issues with women, feminity and gender roles Most of her thinking seems stuck in a past that even she didn t live in The popular girls are always blonde, girls are catty, girls wear dresses instead of practical overalls, women are supposed to be demure, women don t cuss The list goes on and on Ahern is aggressively not like other girls in a way that is odd for a 50 year old woman There is no nuance in her world She thinks being nice is fake and refuses to fake it any but her examples of being nice holding doors open, apologizing when you hit someone with a shopping cart just seem to be just common courtesy Do you need to apologize for sitting in an open seat or being first in line No But if you bang into me at the grocery store, an acknowledgment and a brief sorry is just a part of living in a society She doesn t seem to be able to recognize the difference between basic manners and women undermining themselves She then takes it to a bizarre extreme and says being nice is also ignoring the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust I don t even know where to begin with that Then she makes a strange pivot to drag queens and being fierce that is garbled, a bit offensive and tone deaf It s a puzzling leap She flat out says most people are pretending to be happy and satisfied I think she is neither but surely many are She comes across as a less articulate Holden Caulfield at middle age.She seems completely unable to realize what is universal puberty is rough on everyone and what isn t everyone is faking their lives according to Ahern which simply isn t true and this colors the bulk of the book Most of her stories are very, very particular to her but then she makes these attempts to connect it to the rest of the world so we can find our enough but it never quite works The whole book vacillates between trying to be on the self help spectrum and being a regular memoir in essay form but does neither terribly well.Her daughter s health issues and her husband s surprise admission that he drinks basically 24 hrs a day every day and has for decades a few days before she gives birth seem like they would have been of a source of stress than her childhood but she links even her husband s issues back to her parents they didn t drink so she didn t know what was normal It seems very stunted and unexplored.I don t think this book really holds up to the title at all Ahern comes across as a deeply unhappy woman to this day I do not believe she found enough I do not recommend this ultimately very frustrating book to anyone looking for inspiration or hope I find it strange and maddening that in a book about finding your enough , truthtelling and honest reflection she seems to have made up or exaggerated so many of her examples in order to make her murky point However, it is a very short book The print is large and some essays are just lists of her thoughts about various body parts If you were a huge fan of her blog or her current Instagram account and you want to know about her, it may be worth checking out Be forewarned it is not a funny or joyful book There is no call to action to find enough in your own life or tips on how to accomplish this.I get into a few details about this book in my review on my book review blog from which parts of this review are taken. Thank you to a Goodreads, Sasquatch Books, and Shauna M Ahern for ARC copy of the book As always, an honest review from me Like She was constantly learning about herself and the world around her, growing Discusses her overbearing, emotionally manipulative mother and the effects she had on her childhood and adulthood Brings to light abusive and mentally ill parents Her mental soundtrack All her thoughts and life lessons and daily musing that s she s chosen to share with readers through her book So relatable Love Real, raw, relatable She learns to set boundaries and stick to them The way she speaks about people and especially her community is beautiful and awe inspiring.Dislike Wow, her mother didn t allow her to do anything and had brainwashed her into thinking that was okay, even as a young adult A very Lena Dunham book at the beginning and I do not like her thank goodness the entire book isn t like this Wish that There was a little balanced look at life While this is her story, at times it seems like there is judgment towards people who find happiness in things that bring her unhappiness Example some people find great joy in a daily morning makeup routine me This isn t her and that s fine I m sure she didn t mean to come off as dismissive of other people s different experiences but with a book a little over 200 pages there s definitely room for a few clarifications to appear inclusive of all experiences Overall, a short book that took me awhile to read It s one of those books that you pick up here and there to read a few pages not rushing through to the finish line Kind of like life I mainly enjoyed it, but there were a few times when I didn t The author is a very strong, outspoken woman who does not quiet herself for the ease of others An admirable quality but sometimes it may not make for the type of book you re in the mood for I highly recommend passing this one around to your friends and enjoying some good life discussions about its content. I saw myself in many placesThis was an inciteful and liberating look at life, worth a read by any woman, encouraging us to be brave, honest and open, to hold out for in some ways while accepting we are enough as we are in others Her journey is challenging and impressive, but in some ways, the early chapters undermine this they talk of her school years and the difficulty of not fitting in, skirting the real reasons for her difficulties family background , and something about it feels superficial I couldn t grasp where the self hatred came from I m glad I persevered to the unfolding of her deep story, but it felt like too long spent navel gazing which left a bad taste in my mouth Other sections of the book lack the minute detail of that first section, almost skimming in comparison That said, the book unfolds into a series of beautiful essays on becoming reclaiming self, growing, moving forward, finding peace and happiness, with insightful honesty and well balanced light and depth I underlined many passages which I will reread again and again I m glad the quality of the writing carried me past the unsatisfying early chapters to the gold within. As a fan of GFG recipes, this is a chance to learn about Shauna and see her peel back the happy facade a bit especially from earlier books and blog posts It is interesting to see how her childhood struggles impacted her as a young adult and still today Unfortunately, she seems very self involved There is a strong sense that she is the first person to struggle with much of what she discusses in this book both with her family and in her personal challenges There are also multiple times where she glosses over her responsibility in a situation and seems to blame her spot on those around her or on society as a whole I would understand if this perspective was just in her early years, but it continues throughout the book and into her recent experiences I like Shauna s descriptive writing, but as others have mentioned, this book jumped around unneccessarily Overall, I finished wondering if this book would ve been published if she hadn t already been a published author. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway thank you Sasquatch Books It is interesting to me to read about others lives and experiences This was no exception There were parts that brought tears to my eyes as I could relate to the feelings she was sharing And there were parts that were difficult to read without thinking of the person about whom pretty harsh and disturbing things were being shared and how he she might feel about this being made public But I suppose that is what a memoir is The good, bad and ugly And isn t that Shauna s point I think so anyway.
- 256 pages
- Shauna M. Ahern
- 09 March 2019 Shauna M. Ahern