In this memoir, a New Yorker strives to make a lasting emotional connection with someone, despite her insecurities.
Debut author Rand, a licensed master of social work, writes that she became unmoored by her parents’ divorce when she was just 6 years old. Rand’s father became estranged from the family, and her mother assumed a role as the cynosure of her life—so much so that Rand felt “disparag[ed]” when her mother remarried. Echoes of these formative, tenuous connections seem to manifest in the author’s early romantic relationships. When people didn’t make her the “center of their universe,” she would try to cut ties; she once did so by taking a hiking trip in the Dolomites. However, during this trip, she met an urbane, Italian man, and this relationship led her to move to Italy to start a new life. It’s in that country that the bulk of the memoir unfolds. There, Rand’s “existential loneliness” only temporarily relented when she expanded her circle of friends, landed acting gigs, or had the attention of a man. After three years, Rand returned home to New York City, at which point the story veers sharply from a fish-out-of-water journey to a brief exploration of grief and self-improvement. The author writes that she decided to go back to school and focus on herself, but her efforts were delayed when she was diagnosed with a neurological disorder and then suffered the deaths of loved ones. During her grief, she unexpectedly reconnected with a family member, Grace, which turned out to be her saving grace—the only person who made her feel at home in the world. Rand writes in a matter-of-fact style throughout the memoir, which makes for a smooth read. That said, this straightforwardness can be repetitive at times; for example, she calls herself “needy” over and over again, regarding various facets of her life. However, in a rare deadpan moment, she also writes that she went on her hiking trip to “become the kind of independent woman that men wanted.” Overall, though, less telling and more showing might have resulted in a more nuanced story.
A self-aware but repetitious memoir.