You’ll notice this is a bit of a different post. A friend and I read this book together and instead of being normal and writing two separate reviews, we simply conducted a bit of a “review conversation” if you will. Enjoy!
Sabrina: This is a very, very, very delayed review. This was my very last book of 2012 and I have to say I had a lot of mixed emotions about it. Hence the epic delay for this post.
Leonicka: False. This post is delayed because Sabrina made the mistake of asking me to write my review first. Since I only write if/when the spirit moves me it never happened. In fact it’s still not happening. I’m commenting on her review instead of writing my own. Laziness, thy name is Leonicka.
Sabrina: As a rule, I usually stay away from anything involving concentration on break-ups, it’s just not my cup of tea. Considering the fact that I recently had to deal with a break up (and possible am still mentally dealing with it), I really didn’t want to read all the bad emotions I was feeling through someone else. However, the book does begin in Italy and discusses a lot of food… In addition, Leonicka also had this on her TBR pile, so we decided to venture to Italy, India, and Bali through the words of Elizabeth Gilbert’s true story sabbatical-from-life together.
Leonicka: I’ve had it on my TBR list for ages because a good friend of my mine highly recommended it. The more she raved about it the more skeptical I was. She likes self-help/improvement type books that are mushy and sappy and I… don’t. I also pre-judged the narrator (I feel bad when hating on a real person so I’ll just pretend this is fiction) as a selfish whiny ingrate. “Woe is me my life is so perfect it makes me sick let me give it all up and temporarily live like the natives!!1!” Gag. But I liked the idea of reading a book together and I was fully prepared to have a partner-in-snark.
Sabrina: I’m not much for sappy books either and I usually don’t read anything prescribed as self-help. I prefer to be inspired by stories, rather than being told what to do. I was definitely relieved to see that there was less negative emotion and focus on Elizabeth’s break up. Instead, it began and continued with a struggle to really get to know oneself after being half of another for so long. The quest to be alone and happy at the same time. This aspect really appealed to me since I was (okay, am) going through that same step. Leonicka, on the other hand, had no sympathy. She found Elizabeth to be whiny and ungrateful. It was only when I rephrased the situation using myself as an example that she withdrew [some of] her harsh judgment.
Leonicka: I didn’t withdraw it. I kept it to myself. I mean how could I say, “Omigawd she’s so pathetic” when my particular friend was saying “she’s just like me!” Awkward.
Sabrina: Thanks dude.
Leonicka: I LOVE YOU ❤
Sabrina: Moving on, Italy was a wonderful, delicious, magical whirlwind. Not everyone gets the chance to just up and leave their entire life behind and LIVE. How I long to do that—alas, I live on a publishing salary. Traveling around the world to eat my own weight in pizza and pasta while trying to find myself is not in the budget. More than one manicure a month is also not in the budget, but that’s a whole other matter. Le sigh. I embraced this part of the book because Elizabeth was getting to do what millions of people long to but can’t. So I lived vicariously through her, and mother of God but did that pizza taste good in my head!
Leonicka: Putting the Italy section first was clever. It is the least offensive section and made me lower my guard. The comments I made while reading switch from mocking the narrator to planning my own travels. I took notes on how to make a network of contacts in a foreign country and wrote up a list of must-visit places. I have even resolved to make serious plans to go to Brazil in 2014. The amazing travel was combined with decadent descriptions of food. Italy is clearly made for me.
Sabrina: Sadly, post-Italy, things went south for me. Having grown up in India, I found nothing in that section particularly exciting. I also don’t really believe she found God or did a lot of praying in India, it was more that she came to terms with some of the harsher aspects of her life. So, well, maybe that’s as good as finding God. Bali allowed me to picture some stunning and warm scenery, but that was the extent of what captured me. As Elizabeth progressed, I too found her to be a bit tiresome. To quote myself from an email to my friend, “She’s starting to seem like an overly zealous ditzy American longing for self-realization through other people’s cultures”. Not to bash traveling Americans in the slightest; I love them and I particularly love when people have interest in other countries and cultures. But Elizabeth was just trying too hard and ultimately, I’m not sure her ending was satisfactory enough for me.
Leonicka: Yep. I knew I’d have issues with the “pray” section. My faith is very important to me and I’m quite inflexible. I love understanding other people’s spirituality but the tone of this was so prescriptive that I felt defensive. The Bali section was forgettable. As in I forget what happened. She made friends and got a new boyfriend? Idk. Something like that. I was trying to finish by that point.
Sabrina: It was an interesting read because I experienced moments of immense clarity “Oh my god, that’s exactly how I feel/behave” and then other moments where I found it all tiresome and wanted to be done with the read. Usually reading a book makes me want to watch the movie equivalent but I can say with great certainty, I have no interest in this one. If you’re curious about the book, I’d say go ahead and give it a whirl. If you’re not, then don’t bother.
Leonicka: I agree. There were good points that I will try to incorporate into my own life. For example:
- Happiness is not something I have to earn.
- I need to practice discipline and meditation in my faith (‘cause, frankly, my wishy-washy flakiness is disrespectful to the divine).
But I was so put off by the privilege and pretension of the narrator that I would have missed these lessons if I weren’t taking notes for this review. Overall this book wasn’t totally for me but then again it really had a “too each their own” message so I guess that’s okay.