A charmingly relatable and wise memoir-in-essays by acclaimed writer and bookseller Mary Laura Philpott, “the modern day reincarnation of…Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr, and Laurie Colwin—all rolled into one” (The Washington Post), about what happened after she checked off all the boxes on a successful life’s to-do list and realized she might need to reinvent the list—and herself.
Mary Laura Philpott thought she’d cracked the code: Always be right, and you’ll always be happy.
But once she’d completed her life’s to-do list (job, spouse, house, babies—check!), she found that instead of feeling content and successful, she felt anxious. Lost. Stuck in a daily grind of overflowing calendars, grueling small talk, and sprawling traffic. She’d done everything “right” but still felt all wrong. What’s the worse failure, she wondered: smiling and staying the course, or blowing it all up and running away? And are those the only options?
Taking on the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood, Philpott provides a “frank and funny look at what happens when, in the midst of a tidy life, there occur impossible-to-ignore tugs toward creativity, meaning, and the possibility of something more” (Southern Living). She offers up her own stories to show that identity crises don’t happen just once or only at midlife and reassures us that small, recurring personal re-inventions are both normal and necessary. Most of all, in this “warm embrace of a life lived imperfectly” (Esquire), Philpott shows that when you stop feeling satisfied with your life, you don’t have to burn it all down. You can call upon your many selves to figure out who you are, who you’re not, and where you belong. Who among us isn’t trying to do that?
“Be forewarned that you’ll laugh out loud and cry, probably in the same essay. Philpott has a wonderful way of finding humor, even in darker moments. This is a book you’ll want to buy for yourself and every other woman you know” (Real Simple).
In this heartwarming if occasionally self-indulgent essay collection, Philpott (Penguins with People Problems) shares her struggle with depression despite an outwardly perfect life. Philpott weaves together a collection of anecdotes about her struggles with perfectionism, failure, and coming to terms with her need for change. She discusses her experiences with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome caused by fertility medication, her disconnect from the mundane conversations with friends after they all had children, and her ongoing war with her neighbor over their respective troublemaking pets. Amid this, she became weighed down by an "existential angst" and at times missed work deadlines, stopped washing her hair, and forgot about scheduled commitments. Philpott's prose is conversational and easy to settle into ("Maybe we all walk around assuming everyone is interpreting the world the same way we are, and being surprised they aren't, and that's the loneliness"). However, her tone, while aiming to be witty, can come across as arrogant ("I'm not a monster. I just want everything to be perfect. Is that so much to ask?"). Readers who worry their type-A personalities have led them to be unsatisfied with their successes, or those who yearn for change but can't pinpoint exactly why, will find this book comforting and reassuring.