A debut chronicle of a woman’s love life from her first kiss through marriage, its breakup, and a subsequent painful parting with a lover.
Stall writes that after she graduated from college and married in 2001, “I lost my virginity almost three years later….Let me explain.” She begins with a description of growing up in the Midwest as a quiet, introverted girl in a conservative Christian family. In college, she met Mike, who seemed a perfect match, and they became husband and wife. Both believed in the conservative Christian ideal of premarital virginity; however, they soon discovered that flipping the switch from sex as sinful to seeing it as joyful wasn’t so easy. Only Mike’s threat of divorce induced Stall to allow what she calls “excruciatingly uncomfortable” initial explorations. They went on to have three children, but eventually, she refused all sex. As a result, Mike again wanted a divorce—and this time she accepted it. She’d fallen in love with Heinz, their landscaper, who returned her sexual interest, if not her love. With him, Stall notes, she enjoyed good sex (and the rare orgasm) for the very first time. When Heinz ended their relationship, she writes that “part of me died too….He was my one great true love.” Stall’s voice is unselfconsciously earnest and honest, describing her own sexual feelings and experiences without coyness, and some readers will find much of her story relatable. However, the memoir also lacks insight; for example, it dismisses Mike’s understandable desire for marital sex: “I thought many people lived in sexless marriages and adapted to it,” the author writes. Similarly, Heinz’s boundaries are described as “seemingly arbitrary.” These judgments, among others, may cause some readers to doubt the memoir’s assessments. Nevertheless, there’s courage in Stall’s story of being willing to risk getting hurt in order to live a bigger life.
An anguished, one-sided, but sometimes-joyful love letter.