Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Tour - Eat, Pray, Love

Someone else pretty much summed up my thoughts on this book. Here are my answers to some of the questions. I found this very self indulgent, even for a memoir.

At the start of the book, the author states that she will not go into the details of her divorce. Could you accept this and move on to the rest of the book, or did this lack of explanation influence your opinion of the entire book?

I had a problem with the fact that she did not go into details in the book. I feel that if you are going to show how you overcame a crisis, I would like to know WHAT the crisis was and how it affected you. The author saying that she had a “disastrous divorce” does not help me to feel any sympathy towards her. A lot of people have bad relationships and divorces. If you are going to write a book about discovering yourself, you need to be able to also reveal your life. Otherwise, I can’t really tell what adversity you overcame.

When my IRL (in real life) book club discussed this we had widely differing opinions on the tone of the book. Some thought it was "all about me, poor, poor me!" and "whiny" while others saw Gilbert's self-focus in as a fascinating journey to becoming a better person. What would you say?

I was wondering if anyone else felt that she was whiny. I tried several times not to roll my eyes as I read. I am sorry, but someone who gets to travel (and LOVES it); someone who gets to do a job that she wants to; someone who is not tied down by family responsibilities and can just go off and “discover herself” for a year—oh boo hoo!

Also, it was hard being an infertile hearing her basically bemoan the fact that she did not want children. I know it is her choice, and I would normally not have an issue—I guess it is just a tender spot for me, and since she did not go into the details of her trauma—except to say that then she had an INTENSE relationship with a hottie—oh gasp! (Okay, so I REALLY couldn’t find her sympathetic).

I am sure she has had a hard time. I did read with interest her struggles with depression, as I have family members who deal with this, and I have dealt with PPD. I felt sympathy for her when she was dealing with being alone in the world. BUT, without her going into specifics of her troubles, I can only assume that things for her are 100 times better than many other people who have dealt with depression and loneliness. She, at least, seems to have means to be able to deal with her needs (like traveling and writing). Maybe it was her writing style, but I did not find her a sympathetic person overall.

Elizabeth Gilbert's spiritual crisis was brought to a head by a failing marriage and the dawning realization that her desires were not nearly on the same track as some seemingly powerful, external expectations about how her life should unfold. What defining 'disasters' have triggered you to course-correct your life? Did the crisis(es) sneak up on you or did you see it (them) coming, but deny it for a while? What expectations did it force you to challenge -- either your own or external ones? How hard was that for you personally (as in, are you the kind of temperament that is naturally rebellious? Or not so much? Do you have a hard time letting go of control? Or are you at ease with improv on a grand, spiritual level?)

I think we have two major crisis’s in our lives. I could see both coming, but I denied them for a while.

The second crisis was dealing with our infertility.

The first crisis was finding out that our son had ADHD and social pragmatic issues. This is something we still struggle with. My expectations for my son and the real issues he faces daily. It is hard to see (and know empirically) that your son is very smart but is struggling in school mainly because his brain does not process things the way that others do. When I first found out he was having issues in school, the first thing I thought was “Don’t all 5 year olds act like that?”
My second thought was that I had failed him as a parent. It took me some time to get over that guilt. I realize in hindsight that at some point we were in denial about his issues. I also realize that at some point our expectations for what we thought our son’s behavior and abilities were had to change. Not that we excuse his behavior issues. But, we have learned when it is necessary to ease up on the control. For example, Michael goes through phases where he HATES tags on things – like his clothes, toys, etc. At first, when he was 3 years old, we thought it was cute (it was mainly on toys at that time)—we called it Tag-ectomies. Then, we realized at age 8 years, insisting on tags being removed from his clothing was something he NEEDED. And I stopped being irritated by it. This is especially hard for me, as I am a person who prefers to control things in my life (and sometimes I would like to know how to wash his clothes, damn it!) I have learned to be at ease with my family and its quirks, and I enjoy them more for them.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens ( You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Baby Trail by Sinead Moriarty (with author participation).


Kristin said...

Individually either crisis would be tough to deal with. I can't imagine dealing with both of them at once. It sounds like you are dealing with both admirably.

Cassandra said...

I disagree that things are 100 times better for Gilbert than for other people with depression. No matter someone's resources or capabilities, when they are in it, it's all encompassing. Should she have displayed more gratitude for all of her financial, circumstantial, and innate blessings? Yes, it would have been nice. Was she capable of that gratitude in the midst of her depression? Probably not.

In terms of IF, I have resources that others don't have (though paying for the next IVF cycle won't be easy) and I am able to travel internationally sometimes to get IF out of my mind for a while and I am able to blog about it and I am able to understand the science behind the treatments better than many. But does having these means to deal with my needs give me any better shot at having a baby or any better way of dealing with the past 6.5 years than others have? Not so far.

Anyway, I enjoyed your description of parenting a child with ADHD, and also your thoughts on IF from the Embryo Culture post. I hadn't read that book tour, and it's funny to see how different those questions were than Eat Pray Love's!

Deb said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wasn't annoyed with her leaving the details out about the divorce until in the Pray section where she was "releasing" her ex husband or whatever it was.

Delenn said...


True about the depression issues. My husband is a manic depressive, and it doesn't matter what your life is like--if you are depressed there is not an easy way out--at least in your mind.

I guess my thoughts were more that she did a LOT of self pitying which seemed to undermine her message of self discovery.

And, as one who has never had financial means to explore the world, I suppose I wish that the person I was taking this "virtual" trip with was laying off the "me, me, me" part of the trip.

JuliaS said...

I wasn't bothered by her leaving out the details of her divorce - though I do understand your point of needing to know the "what" so as to understand the "how" better. Certainly knowing what horrible things one has had to overcome makes the victory in overcoming much more admirable.

I did get a little tired of the "all about me" tone and just had to keep reminding myself that this was her journey, and as such, I would have to expect a lot of "me" in it.

The rest of the book - her descriptions of the food, people, places were enjoyable however. :0)

loribeth said...

You have a good point, that not everybody has the resources or book contract to travel & focus on themselves for a year. ; ) I did enjoy the book for the most part, though!

Most of us, in answering the crisis question, refer to our infertility. I found your account of dealing with your son's ADHD interesting & moving. Thanks for your comments!

Lori said...

I think it's tricky, when you are writing your story that is also someone ELSE's story, to know what is OK to tell. I wonder if she didn't spill more about her divorce out of concern for her ex's privacy. If so, I respect her for that.

I face this dilemma in writing about my children's adoptions. There are some things about their circumstances, and about their birthparents, that I feel are not MY story to tell.

I enjoyed reading about how you dealt with your son. I've known other kids who require Tag-ectomies, but I never knew the technical name for it!

Lori said...

I forgot to tell you thanks for entering our M&Ms giveaway. We'll announce the winners next week, so check back. We'd love to have you as a regular reader.