I received a free digital copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
This book has taken me a long to review, and I am not sure why. I absolutely loved Educated by Tara Westover and this was similar in some ways, but completely different in most other ways. I don't want this to seem like I am comparing them, even though that is what it looks like I am doing. It is just that I am not quite sure how to describe how I could relate to one experience so much better than the other, despite the fact that my life could not be further from either of these experiences.
Caitlin Myer is an incredibly strong, brave, powerful woman. The courage it takes to confront her past, her family secrets, and drag all of those things out into the light is phenomenal. She details her strict Mormon upbringing, her mother's illnesses, and the family dynamic that she grew up in.
From early on, Myer's mom's health has a huge impact on her life. Her mother is sick and never leaves her bed most of the time. This of course also impacts the family as a whole, with the mom-sized space often vacant in their lives. Myer focuses on being the happy, dutiful child so that when sexual abuse occurs, she hides it. To accuse, to speak out against it, was simply unacceptable. So Myer hid it, exactly as anyone brought up in similar confines would have done.
However, those assaults also make Myer who she is, because of how she changed and grew after they occurred. So she has to contend with this image expected of a perfect Mormon wife, with the real person she is becoming. The two do not mesh. Myer realizes eventually she is not able to be, nor does she really want to be, that ideal. We then follow her journey as she leave the church, thus also leaving her family. There is so much to her story, and Myer must navigate the world once she leaves, figuring out what her own expectations are for her life. Previously, her expectations did not really matter. She would grow up, get married, be the perfect Mormon wife, have a couple children, and the cycle would repeat.
Except, once she left, she had this whole new sense of freedom, despite a past that still weighed her down, at times was so heavy that it was suffocating.
It was really hard for me to stay in the story. It was not the content itself, as I have read more than my fair share of uncomfortable truths. I think the main drawback for me is the writing style itself. Sometimes it is almost conversational, but then that conversation veers off and meanders and I had a difficult time sometimes catching up, or even wanting to catch up. Other times it was almost more like reading her journal, but still with the fragments and meandering. The writing made it hard to connect to the stories she was weaving. Other readers may likely enjoy this style more, but for me it did not work in this case. It is almost like the style is too light-hearted for such serious and painful topics.
Recommended for those who enjoy memoirs, especially memoirs having to do with leaving strict and religious upbringings, and who will not be triggered by content involving sexual assault.