Practical if often shopworn advice on how to move beyond unfulfilling relationships.

BIG WILD LOVE

In her self-help debut, Murray encourages women to let go of unsatisfying relationships by following a 6-step plan that builds on a popular TEDx talk she gave on the topic.

Murray had an “epiphany” after her boyfriend, Hector, stood her up for an appointment to go house-hunting with a real estate agent: Even though they’d been together for 12 years, he was never going to commit. That realization helped prompt her to ditch that romance and set her sights on what she calls “Big Wild Love,” or “a deliberate, intentional pursuit of taking care of oneself that allows a woman to see herself perhaps for the very first time.” In this book-length pep talk, she urges others who feel stuck—whether in bad marriages or unrewarding relationships of another sort—to cultivate self-love and to go for what they most want in life. Using real-life examples culled from women who reached out to her after her TEDx talk, “The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go,” Murray describes a 6-step process that she believes can bring people through the “tunnel of pain” and into the light of their own “Big Wild Love.” Some of her advice will be overfamiliar to frequent consumers of self-help books—endorsing “self-care and self-love” are clichés of the genre—and the writing can be hokey: “Beyond those raw and inflamed nerve endings comes a wondrous regrowth—of resilience and fortitude and veracity.” But along with bromides like “be realistic” and “acknowledge your mistakes,” Murray offers more practical steps toward turning things around, such as planning “a two-day relationship detox” that follows the hour-by-hour schedule she suggests. She also offers writing prompts on topics like, “Do I fear that I won’t be OK if I take a risk?” As for whether her advice works: For some readers, Murray’s experience will speak for itself. After leaving the dithering Hector, she met a better man for her on Match.com. After four dates, they moved in together, and after 14 months, they got married.

Practical if often shopworn advice on how to move beyond unfulfilling relationships.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-852-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2020

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AN INVISIBLE THREAD

THE TRUE STORY OF AN 11-YEAR-OLD PANHANDLER, A BUSY SALES EXECUTIVE, AND AN UNLIKELY MEETING WITH DESTINY

A straightforward tale of kindness and paying it forward in 1980s New York.

When advertising executive Schroff answered a child’s request for spare change by inviting him for lunch, she did not expect the encounter to grow into a friendship that would endure into his adulthood. The author recounts how she and Maurice, a promising boy from a drug-addicted family, learned to trust each other. Schroff acknowledges risks—including the possibility of her actions being misconstrued and the tension of crossing socio-economic divides—but does not dwell on the complexities of homelessness or the philosophical problems of altruism. She does not question whether public recognition is beneficial, or whether it is sufficient for the recipient to realize the extent of what has been done. With the assistance of People human-interest writer Tresniowski (Tiger Virtues, 2005, etc.), Schroff adheres to a personal narrative that traces her troubled relationship with her father, her meetings with Maurice and his background, all while avoiding direct parallels, noting that their childhoods differed in severity even if they shared similar emotional voids. With feel-good dramatizations, the story seldom transcends the message that reaching out makes a difference. It is framed in simple terms, from attributing the first meeting to “two people with complicated pasts and fragile dreams” that were “somehow meant to be friends” to the conclusion that love is a driving force. Admirably, Schroff notes that she did not seek a role as a “substitute parent,” and she does not judge Maurice’s mother for her lifestyle. That both main figures experience a few setbacks yet eventually survive is never in question; the story fittingly concludes with an epilogue by Maurice. For readers seeking an uplifting reminder that small gestures matter.

 

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4251-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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