Thursday, July 5, 2018

Before I Let You Go - DNF Review

Before I Let You Go: Stories for My Grown Son

By: Kirsten Wreggitt

Expected Publication: November 27th 2017 by Bloomscript Inc.

184 pages

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir, Biography

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--“I was petrified we would have a girl. Everything about having a girl was horrible to me—the princess parties, the fear for her safety, and the emotional roller coaster ride. But mostly I was afraid she would be like me: suicidal, unable to make brave choices, and trapped inside a body she didn’t love. I was terrified I would have to face that mirror in two places every day.”

“Before I Let You Go” is a journey of Kirsten Wreggitt’s life through motherhood and marriage, and her self-discovery along the way. It is a collection of stories she wanted to share with her grown son about her life’s greatest lessons. These were stories she could not talk about with him because they were too uncomfortable or raw. As she says “In here, I can say the things that catch in my throat. I can say the things that make your eyes roll. In here, I can safely share what I have always wanted to tell you but the time was just never right.”

Among the many stories in this book, Kirsten shares stories of the difficulty of marriage, the struggle to love herself and her body, the triumph of facing her fears, the pain of loving a child, the regret of decisions, and the freedom of knowing yourself. She discusses these with a rare honesty and sometimes offers up surprising advice as a result.

Before I Let You Go is a woman’s reflection on the halfway point of her life and the journey to get there. She shares the joy of the journey and being in the moment: “I am not anticipating the next stop—I am here paying attention, and loving what I see.” She shares the struggle with finding her purpose: “And what if I still never really know why I am here? I still must eat. I still must drink. I still must sleep. And I must love. And love? Even if that is all there is, that changes everything.” And she shares her most difficult question of all: “I am face to face with my mortality, and though I have loved others and was loved by others, the only question that remains is “Did I love me?””

I had such high hopes for Before I Let You Go. Having just had a baby boy 8 months ago, I loved the idea of a mom writing a book of things she wants to say to her son before he leaves her house to move out on his own. I've often thought of doing something similar for my daughter and now son as well. I'm sure it isn't an entirely original idea. But I was so excited to see what this book was all about.

However, I quickly realized that Kirsten Wreggitt and I have some very different thoughts on life, parenting, and especially religion. First off, I was confused about her intro to Before I Let You Go where she discusses being unable to have serious/in depth conversations with her son. And I found this pretty sad. Of course, I don't want to be too judgemental yet considering that my children are quite young. But my parents never shied away from difficult conversations with me. And even aunts and cousins and various other family members. I won't say that anyone enjoys difficult conversations, but the importance of them and the love we have for each other prompt us to move past discomfort in order to get to the heart of things. Of course though, there have been specific people in my life that are particularly difficult to have a deep conversation with so I can understand...a little.

Also I'm a Christian and I'm quite confident in my faith and beliefs. I wasn't far into Before I Let You Go when I first had the thought that Kirsten Wreggitt needs God in her life. This isn't a judgment upon her. She just seems so lost. Her letter to her son (at least the portion that I read) was filled more of questions than answers for him. And while I don't claim to have all of the answers to life's big questions, I do know the One who does have those answers. Kirsten Wreggitt has a section dedicated to "church", and it was during this section that I couldn't stop thinking "she's missing the entire point." First off, the modern American version of "church" is quite different from what the Biblical meaning of the word and what we see in the first century. While God does know that we need each other and He designed us to help each other on our journey from Earth to Heaven, the thing that she's missing is Jesus. Even if she mentioned His name...what she "got out of church" was "community". It was about this point that I started pondering DNF. Once I reached her section about sitting down with a spiritual teacher I confirmed my decision and only kept reading until 25% to meet my own requirements for a DNF review.

Ultimately the differences in my faith, parenting philosophies, and general outlook on life made me realize that Before I Let You Go and I aren't the right fit for each other. I'm not the right reader for it, and it isn't the right book for me. I DNF'd Before I Let You Go at 25%. Have you read Before I Let You Go ? What did you think? Let me know!

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