An exploration of the lengths we will go to heal.
There are countless books on New Age subjects, from studies on chakras and dream incubation to manifestos on psychometry. Griswold’s debut is in that vein, as she provides an exhaustive look at alternative treatments, but wrapped up in that narrative is a personal tale about her own quest to find comfort and healing from the scars of her youth and the tragedy of her divorce after her husband was caught soliciting a prostitute. Somehow, the author managed to find some humor in her situation, and she positions her sarcasm well with the book’s format. Each chapter begins with a breakdown of the remedy she’s seeking. For instance, in Chapter 10, Griswold documents her attendance of an “About Sex Seminar” at age 15. Under subheads, she summarizes the concept before diving into the actual treatment: “Equipment Needed: The seminar leader has a manual in front of the room. This is one manual I’d like to get my hands on. Employment: My job making Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls on Balboa Island doesn’t cover the tuition. Cost: $225. Humiliation Factor: Warming up.” But how did a 15-year-old become a regular at self-help talks, sex seminars, and personal growth workshops? The answer lies in her Christian Scientist family’s fascination with New Age theologies—Griswold asked for her own mantra at age 7—and her parents’ efforts to mend their own marriage with various therapies. Of course, both marriages—Griswold’s and her parents’—fell apart, and those losses are at the heart of the author’s quest to find some sense of recovery with everything from Vipassana meditation retreats to stick therapy to an ayahuasca tea treatment, which made her vomit for hours. As remedies, the results were decidedly mixed, but vicariously living them through her telling makes for a fascinating book.
Soul-searching has never been more comprehensive.