For starters, a tremendous thanks to Margaret David Ghielmetti, She Writes Press, and Books Forward PR for my copy of Brave(ish).
You guys. I loved Brave(ish) so much. ARCs are generally hit or miss for me (Check out my review of Finding Hemingway for an example of an ARC I just could not get behind). I try to be very open minded with very little expectation. This one really blew me out of the water. I was initially intrigued by the subtitle: “A Memoir of a Recovering Perfectionist.” I consider myself a bit of a perfectionist, so there had to be something I could learn about giving things up or walking away.
At forty, Margaret quits her sales job to follow her husband’s hotel career to Paris. She’s an intrepid traveler setting sail on this adventure with a glass half-full of bravery, a journal in which to write her novel, and the mentally ingrained Family Handbook of Rules to Live By.
Everyone tells Margaret she’ living the dream, but without a professional identity, she is adrift. Desperate to feel valued, she at first throws herself into new roles: perfect spouse, hostess, tour guide, and expatriate. But when the void inside threatens to engulf her, she does the one thing she was raised never to do: asks for — and accepts — help.
Over the next fifteen years abroad, the cultures of Egypt, Thailand, India, Singapore, and Switzerland confront Margaret with lessons she never would have learned at home. But it’s only with a move back to Chicago — where she steps in as perfect caretaker to her parents — that she must decide: will she let go of the old rules and roles she thinks keep her safe in order to step into her own life and creative destiny?
Man, I connected with Margaret. There is so much she has gone through that I certainly haven’t (fertility issues, losing her parents, traveling around the world), but her ideas and feelings around who she needs to be (or feels like she needs to be) hit me at my core.
I could get into a big therapeutic rant about this book and how it connected to me, my life, and my relationships, but that’s a bit too deep for the blog here. My favorite quotes below should give you a taste of what resonated with me.
When I first started reading Brave(ish), I (incorrectly) assumed that this would be another book written by someone entitled about how hard their life was as they traveled the world in luxury. I was wrong. Like I’ve said, I connected with Margaret and was severely invested in her journey. I cried with her as she said goodbye to both of her parents, cheered her on as she shared her stories on stage in front of strangers, and gave a resounding “Yasssss girl” as she took steps to say yes to herself.
I did dock a star from my rating because it went into God and alcoholism a bit in a way that I didn’t feel it needed to. Now, it’s Margaret’s story, and it was important for her to share, so I stand by that decision. However, the religious pieces (as few as there were) felt a bit…fake. It is my personal preference that you not “give a voice” to God (or the higher entity as she never really admitted that it was God).
Favorite Quotes from Brave(ish)
I’ve started marking up books to denote my favorite passages. I know it’s sacrilege, but it has helped in weird ways. I think I’ve become a more engaged reader.
I’d written inside by copy of What Color is Your Parachute, “I fear that if I don’t put myself out there and work hard, I won’t be lovable.” Instead of leaving, I worked harder.Brave(ish), Page 49
“But Linda!” I practically yell, “Who will I be if I don’t have it all together? Who will I be if I’m not perfect?”Brave(ish), Page 80
I thought it was up to me to keep the relationship perfect (or at least to keep it on life support until I could figure out how to make it better). A little part of my heart would always whimper, “This is no way to be treated.” I hadn’t yet known that it was — also — no way to allow myself to be treated.Brave(ish), Page 134
“Compassion is your gateway drug to enabling and people-pleasing to reassure and soothe yourself.”Brave(ish), Page 215
Now, do I think this book will be at the top of the bestsellers list? Probably not. However, you best believe I will be recommending it to everyone who needs it. Margaret Davis Ghielmetti finally wrote her book and shared her story, and now it needs to be shared with the world. Well done, Ms. Ghielmetti. I look forward to what you’re going to do next.
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