Book Chat

This month’s book reviews, which may contain affiliate links:
"Break-Through" ClintonHave you ever found yourself making excuses for someone in your life? Saying something like, “Well, she does have a good side,” or “It’s probably my fault,” or “She’s had a hard life. I need to cut her some slack.” I tell myself things like that all the time. And usually, such statements mean you’re in the midst of some relationships where you’re being controlled or manipulated by someone else. Since I can identify some relationships just like that in my own life, I was happy to have the opportunity to review Break Through: When to Give In, How to Push Back by Tim Clinton and Pat Springle.

The book lets you know about some new (at least to me) terms like enmeshment. It shows examples of how others can take advantage of us, even if they may not even be aware of it. It also gives tips on how to deal with such people (hint: it’s not easy, and since people like these usually have a pattern of controlling behavior, it’s not likely you’ll change them).

I thoroughly enjoyed about the first third of the book. After that, it seemed to grow repetitive to me, and I began skimming. Really, I think it would have made a great, meaty magazine article. Recommended for those in situations where they feel that others are trying to control their life.

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Becoming Sister Wives - Kody Brown, Meri, Janelle, Christine, RobynOh my. Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage was like junk food: the book equivalent to McDonald’s or People magazine. Reading it didn’t feel like a bit of work, just juicy fun. I’ve been a fan of the TV show “Sister Wives” since its inception a year or so back. For those of you not familiar with the show, it chronicles the lives of the Brown family: Kody and his 4 wives: Meri, Janelle, Christine, and most recently, Robyn. The have 17 kids among them.

The book has  brief chapters at the beginning written by Kody, but the majority is written by the four wives. They each write a chapter on the topics of marriage, sisterhood, family, and celebrity. Some things I found interesting (granted, they may not be too interesting if you don’t watch the show):

  • Feelings seem to be very big indicators for members of the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which is different from Mormons, which is what the Brown family belong to). They call these feelings a “testimony,” and as I read the book it struck me how often Kody would meet a woman and get the “feeling”/”testimony” that she would be his next wife. The women got these testimonies as well.
  • Meri came across as being really romantic with Kody. Although she said they’d planned all along to practice plural marriage, I can’t help feeling she’d be a whole lot happier with Kody to herself. Meri came across as pretty mean in this book, especially in the early years when she and Kody had just married Janelle. She was angry that Kody and Janelle got married the day after her birthday. She pretty much ran the household, and scolded Janelle for all kinds of things Meri felt she was doing wrong. Janelle describes how they would watch a movie at home, and while Kody and Meri were snuggled under a blanket, Janelle would be left out, sitting in a separate chair. I couldn’t help resenting Meri and feeling a little sorry for Janelle.
  • Kody mentions that he was attracted to Janelle for her “first-rate mind.” I wondered how that made Meri feel? Is her mind second-rate? Also, the comment kind of amused me because I don’t see Kody as much of an intellectual after watching the show.
  • When Kody meets wife #3, Christine, he describes her as “cute but chubby,” and then comments that “I used to care about shallow things ” like that. Gee! I would think this comment would make wives #1-3 all feel bad, as they’re all overweight now. Of course, latest wife, Robyn, is very thin. Maybe Kody still cares more about shallow things?
  • Janelle and Christine seem to get along pretty well. Christine is the “at home mom” while Janelle is the working woman. Meri felt threatened by both of them. She “discovered” Robyn and thought he would be great for Kody, and also a good friend for her. So Kody, Meri and Robyn kind of hatched the plan for that marriage before the other two wives even knew about it. I think this would cause a lot of resentment from Christine and Janelle.
  • Christine says that when she entered the family, Meri and Janelle didn’t have a relationship at all. She also says that Meri became her best friend, but then in Meri’s chapter, Meri says that her relationship with Christine has “no depth.” Hmm …

The family comes off as significantly less close and warm than they do on the show. I liked Meri less, and Robyn a bit more (although I’m still not a Robyn fan). Recommended, if you enjoy the show.

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The Politician Edwards Andrew Young bookWith John Edwards in the news lately, having pretty much gotten off the hook due to a mistrial, I figured it was a good time to learn more about his sordid tale. That’s just what The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down, by Andrew Young, provided.

Young was Edwards’ aide for about 10 years. He hitched himself to Edwards’ star, thinking Edwards would become President or at least Vice President. In hopes of that, Young did more and more for the Edwards family. He ran errands for them, gave up holidays with his own wife and young kids to do things for them, etc. Eventually, he even went so far as to tell the media that he was the father of a baby actually fathered by John Edwards.

Throughout the book, I kept finding it hard to believe that people like Young and the Edwardses really existed. Can you imagine being the Edwards family, and having people so loyal to you that they would chauffeur you around and have your favorite snack and drinks (on ice) available to you at all times? Folks who would get a separate cell phone so your calls to your mistress couldn’t be traced on your own phone? Having so much money that you could build a house with a room dedicated solely to gift wrapping and Christmas ornaments? Building adjoining tree houses (each over 1000 square feet) for your kids? Having a benefactor named “Bunny” who agreed to give you millions to basically use as you saw fit (in Edwards’ case, he saw fit to use the funding to move the Young family and his mistress around from swanky resort to swanky resort, trying to keep them hidden during election season)?

Elizabeth Edwards didn’t come off well in the book either. She was nasty to Andrew  Young, ostensibly because her husband told her that Young and Rielle Hunter were having an affair. In reality, John Edwards and Hunter were having the affair. Elizabeth, suffering from cancer, allegedly didn’t know this, but she did keep a tight reign on John’s cell phone records and other things. I feel that on some level she must have known.

Worst of all was the idea that Edwards might actually have become President, the same year his mistress gave birth to his child (named Quinn, based on “quin” meaning five, because she was Edwards’s fifth child). Rielle Hunter comes off as a selfish, awful woman. Yet while those two were cavorting and making sex tapes, many in the country thought of John Edwards as a caring politician who would help the poor.

This book was like a soap opera in print form. I’m only sorry that it was a true story.

4 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. I’ll probably read the “Sister Wives” book though I’ve never seen the show I have read just about everything on the FLDS. Edwards—if he sounds too good to be true……….What a mess of a personal life! Even for a politician!

  2. Break Through is definitely the “deepest” of the three you’ve reviewed. This book is a game-changer for those who need help setting boundaries in their life. Some of us try to hard to control others; others of us allow ourselves to be manipulated, even bullied. This book addresses both these dysfunctions but offers real life examples of how to change.

  3. I just read today that Hunter has dumped Edwards. He deserves that, and more, for what he did to his wife. I feel sorry for his kids.

  4. In my youth I enjoyed reading books. In the decades since, I abandoned reading. Of course this year I read your book about Growing Up Baptist. For some unknown reason this summer I checked out a library book, The Cross Country Quilters which had 369 pages. I had it done in less than a week, which amazed me! Less than a week ago I found The Magic Room at our library. I just finished it minutes ago. I was even trying to talk a library employee into reading this book. I told her I virtually didn’t read and now I was trying to get others to read books. She said, “That’s what it’s all about!”

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I enjoy hearing your thoughts.