This book turned out to be exactly what I needed in lockdown. Powerfully honest, intelligent, spiritual, feminist and excruciatingly human.
Glennon Doyle is a memoir veteran. She wrote her previous two books on the back of recovering from addiction and saving her crumbling marriage. She writes Untamed having left her husband, fallen madly in love with her now wife and taken her life apart piece by piece, examining what led her to creating the superficial happiness, when all the while she felt just a little bit dead inside.
She starts the book with a punch. The words of the first pages needed to settle down in me before I could come back to it. But then it picks up an irresistible rhythm as she starts telling short, but powerful anecdotes from her life, like trying to understand why her son’s shampoo bottles tell him to be smash things with a folding chair, while her daughters’ list vague adjectives, like ‘sensual’. Then she slowly unpicks the structure of the world that led us to this kind of marketing and that we all internalised at a very young age: the rights and wrongs of who to be, how to be, who to love, what to like and, most importantly, how to be likeable.
Doyle’s book is a feminist manifesto of living a life true to yourself. Its power lays in the author confessing to her own confusion, mistakes, bad decisions and then turning the mirror onto the reader to ask: what have you done even though deep down you felt you don’t want it?
Doyle uncovers the social conditioning we are all subjected to with a sharpness that leaves you astonished, but at the same time her writing is soft, soulful, comes from the bottom of the heart. And from the personal, she builds into the political. The book is also a reflection on many challenges of our times in which strong, female voices must play a key role: bringing about gender and racial equality, broadening our understanding of sexuality and gender identity, leading the fight against climate change and, most importantly, stop living a life numb to what’s important.
With Untamed you’re in for a treat of a story told with wisdom, love, wit and humour. After all, it takes guts to confess how you really feel about your ex-husband’s new girlfriend when you’re a world-known inspirational writer.
This book is so much more than another inspirational memoir and it was a true joy to read. It will likely become my default gift for the women in my life for the foreseeable future.
Words by Julia Jaworska