Jen A was kind enough to send me this book after I was laid off (we had discussed it on her blog, but I had forgotten she was planning to send it) and had a sudden influx of reading time. I actually finished this book last week and meant to send a commentary to Jen, but today I had a lack of blog fodder (other than I am SO not used to working at home!) so here's my review.
The Late Bloomer's Revolution, by Amy Cohen
Amy is a wonderfully descriptive writer - an overdramatic and slightly neurotic New York writer - but very descriptive. Her talent for story-telling, I believe, may be behind some of her troubles in the book. She is constantly imagining what other people think and do and is super-conscious of her own life *as a story.* (This latter, I have experienced myself. It only becomes a problem if you start judging your life as if it should be structured like an epic tale and start making decisions accordingly.)
The stories she tells about herself are wonderfully humble. She doesn't do everything well, in fact, her failures and frustrations are very human. It makes for a fast read.
Her theorizing about what her life is about and why why why is it not going the way it "should" be going just about drove me up the wall. When I got to the end, I understood why. She was working her way towards a realization that she (I don't think I'm "ruining" the end here) is ultimately responsible for all the choices in her life and the reason she is where she is is that she chose to be there. "This was my shit. For better or worse." I came to the same understanding in the last few years and as Amy also experienced, it's terribly liberating. And the funny thing is, I don't think that she learned it that late (I think she was around 40 at the end of the book). I think everyone else is also working toward that kind of understanding and acceptance of who they are and some are just doing it a different way. Marriage (which Amy both avoids and longs for in the book) is not a storybook ending, it's a carnival, complete with rollercoaster rides of emotions and a fun-house of mirrors presenting you with both real and distorted images of yourself. It's a school where you learn about yourself and how you deal with other people. The unmarried do it too, just with different players in the key roles.
This realization is, I believe, the next step after the realization Amy came to - that of taking responsibility for one's choices. Accepting your choices (good and bad) is the first step to accepting yourself, as you are (good and bad). Accepting doesn't mean you don't try to work on expressing what you value, but it does mean giving up on comparing yourself with those around you. When you do that, marriage becomes not a Holy Grail, but merely a different road.
So, I think Amy's book describes a portion of this journey. I'm glad she shared it with the world, as I'm sure there are many people who identify with her. I'm just glad I'm past that portion myself. It was hard! And I learned something! :)