This book is a collection of 30 different essays by women from all different walks of life—including some celebrities (Sheryl Crow, Camryn Manheim, Mariska Hartigay)—reflecting on the lessons learned from various life-defining moments. Most of the stories fall under the three categories of hardship, humiliation and heartbreak. Each woman reflects on what brought her to the life-changing moment and how things proceeded from there. Each essay ends with a brief “note to self” about the lessons they learned.
As with all books of this ilk, the essays are wildly uneven. Also, it becomes difficult not to “compare” the hardships and heartbreaks to each other. Is it really so awful to become “ugly” when someone else writes about seeing their mother shot dead by their father? Other times, you feel like the person was bringing the problem onto themselves a bit (as with the women who couldn’t leave cheating spouses). The other problem was that the short essay format forces each woman to condense their experiences—sometimes shortchanging the agony and difficulties they faced. (The essay on the woman whose young son died comes to mind.)
Despite these shortcomings, the book held my interest as the various obstacles faced vary wildly and satisfied the voyeur side of me. It is amazing what difficulties people can face and end up being stronger as a result. If this type of book is your “thing,” then I’d recommend it. Otherwise, I think it ended up being a weaker read than I was expecting and I was disappointed.