I really liked the book, although at the beginning and the end of it I was getting kind of restless and wanted it to be over. I was looking at the things I highlighted to remind myself of the things that struck me the most, so here is my list:
1. I really liked the theme of freedom/God's will. I think I believe what she believes: that God gives us choices, which means we can make bad choices if we want to, and sometimes when we ask for something the answer is no. But that doesn't mean that He's not there, trying to help us out and make the right decisions. It's just that ultimately, it's up to us to decide.
I loved the quote about the animals--how they're always trying to get free but they don't know what to do with their freedom when they have it and sometimes they end up getting killed. I think guys are that way, too. I know Jamie also wanted to break up and wanted his freedom, and I suspect he will not fare well, but I'm trying not to get involved again because it's too much work trying to help him and he's not really able to help me. I feel bad, but I do believe that God is trying to help him, and if he doesn't listen, I guess that's his choice.
I also thought the relationship between Lily and Rosemary was interesting. Although I am not a parent, I can appreciate how hard it must be to want your children to make good choices and not have a hard life. I know many of you read "Glass Castles" because it's one of our book club books, and at the end of the book her mom and dad were squatters. That's not what you hope that your children's life will be like. I guess she didn't care since that's how she was living, and in the book it was pretty clear that she knew it might be like that if she married Rex but didn't care, either. But then it didn't just affect her. It also affected her children, and it wasn't so great for the author. But then again, she became a famous writer and journalist, so I guess things turned out OK for her in the end.
I also thought it was interesting that, despite Lily's attempts to control everything and make wise choices, she married that loser guy, and it was clear from the beginning that he was a loser. It proves my theory that women can be together in every aspect of their lives but still make bad choices in relationships. Not sure why being smart doesn't help, but from counseling and personal experience I can tell you that it doesn't. I think she was grieving over her friend and needed someone to help her with it. We do need to be around other people during periods of grief. Either that or be on antidepressants. There's actually research supporting both of those statements.
Finally, I liked what she said about life's adventures: you will encounter adventures whether you want to or not, so you don't have to try to make things harder for yourself. I tell clients this about suffering, too, and it comes straight from Buddhism: life is full of suffering that we can't control. But we can at least prevent the suffering we can control--how we treat ourselves and others, the approach we take towards living.
Actually, Freud said this, too. He said that at best, we could hope to reduce our suffering to the psychopathology of every day living. People thought that was a negative view of life, but I don't think it's actually any different than what Buddha said. But I guess since Freud said a lot of crazy things and was crazy himself, it's easy to interpret that statement more negatively than what I think he intended.
Now that I'm writing all this out, I realize that all of my comments are about free will. I wouldn't have realized that this is what struck me the most about the book without this blog! I encourage all of you to write your thoughts if you've finished the book; otherwise you'll forget them by the time we meet!
P.S. I just thought of something else. I was thinking about how at the end of the book Jeannette Wells said she wanted to write a book about her mom but her mom told her that her grandmother was the interesting person. I was thinking about how in Tender at the Bone I thought Reichl's mom would probably be upset about how she was portrayed. I had thought the same thing about Well's parents after reading Glass Castles. But then here is Wells, wanting to tell her mom's story.
And her mom Rosemary, who didn't seem to have a great relationship with her mom, Lily, also wanted her mom's story to be told. Maybe this means that, despite the negative things that the aitjprs talked about in their upbringing, in the end they tried to have compassion for their mom's story and why she was the way she was. And maybe that's really what most writing is about.