I just need to write this review. It just needs to happen. I read the book back in APRIL and it is now August. I’ve been letting the whole THING around this book and it getting canceled and review-bombed get to me. This was a book club pick for one of my in-person book clubs, and my friend Alison who picked it definitely picked it in part because it was a controversial book and she likes drama. If you’re not aware of the drama surrounding this one, here are some links for background, because I’m not rehashing it here:
- “Surefire Ways to Piss off BookTwitter and Implode your Ratings on Goodreads: A How to Guide” / Reddit
- “Lauren Hough Shows Us What Not to Do on Book Twitter” / Fangirlish
- “Author Lauren Hough’s Rescinded Award Nomination Is a Reminder That Online Literary Drama Leads Nowhere Good” / Slate
Actually reading this book makes it abundantly clear that Lauren Hough was not socialized typically enough to be able to handle the pressures and criticisms of publishing a book, let alone a book this personal. Every experience in her life prepared her to handle the situation terribly. She did exactly all the wrong things in her response to not only the (positive!) reviews, but to criticisms of her behavior as well. And it makes complete sense, having read this, even as I’m sitting back going ohhh no don’t do that what are you doing. Stop. It is especially frustrating given how self-reflective she is in her writing, and how incisive.
Look, it’s been over four months since I read this now so you’re not getting details. But this is a book reflecting on Hough’s life as a gay woman in the military, as a child pushed into the world after having been raised in a cult, as a person recovering from trauma and abusive situations. It was a very, very good read. I will read it again. If you like audiobooks, this is apparently a good one (I read the paperback, but several friends in book club did the audio); Cate Blanchett reads a lot of it (as does the author). It’s a book about a person who can’t find a place to fit.
I am still mad at her attitude as a “fucking nerd,” myself. Yes, by all means, insult the people who want to buy your books who hold your career in their hands.
If you are still on the fence about this, go and read the essay that got me interested in this book in the first place (and which reads even better in the middle of this book). It’s free.