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

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 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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These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.

What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-946909

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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

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. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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