Wiving A memoir of loving then leaving the patriarchy

Caitlin Myer

eBook - 2020

A literary memoir of one woman's journey from wife to warrior, in the vein of breakout hits like Cheryl Strayed's Wild and Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle. At thirty-six years old, Caitlin Myer is ready to start a family with her husband. She has left behind the restrictive confines of her Mormon upbringing and early sexual trauma and believes she is now living her happily ever after . . . when her body betrays her. In a single week, she suffers the twin losses of a hysterectomy and the death of her mother, and she is jolted into a terrible awakening that forces her to reckon with her past-and future. This is the story of one woman's lifelong combat with a culture-her "escape" from religion at age twenty, on...ly to find herself similarly entrapped in the gender conventions of the secular culture at large, conventions that teach girls and women to shape themselves to please men, to become good wives and mothers. The biblical characters Yael and Judith, wives who became assassins, become her totems as she evolves from wifely submission to warrior independence. An electric debut that loudly redefines our notions of womanhood, Wiving grapples with the intersections of religion and sex, trauma and love, sickness and mental illness, and a woman's harrowing enlightenment. Building on the literary tradition of difficult women who struggle to be heard, Wiving introduces an urgent, striking voice to the scene of contemporary women's writing at a time when we must explode old myths and build new stories in their place.

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[United States] : Arcade 2020.
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hoopla digital
Main Author
Caitlin Myer (author)
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hoopla digital (-)
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Review by Booklist Review

In this disturbing memoir, Myer shares her five-decade life, from Mormon childhood in Utah through a rape, promiscuity, the death of her bipolar mother, marriage, a hysterectomy, divorce, Prozac, a bad reaction to Prozac, suicidal thoughts, extensive travels, therapists to, finally, some peace. She writes beautifully and with a sense of humor, even about traumatizing events. This candid chronicle can be exhausting, and it is haunting. Some of the content is graphic, including her account of a sex party involving masks and whips in a Victorian mansion in San Francisco. Myer swings from extreme lows to extreme highs. She writes that her body grieves for its loss of fertility years after "my uterus was cut out of me." With her late-night walks alone and her freewheeling approach to sex, it almost seems miraculous that she lives to tell her tale. It's also remarkable that she doesn't receive a psychiatric diagnosis until the end of the narrative. Be prepared to reflect on feminism, family, fertility, solitude, and mental health with this record of one woman's dramatic life.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Growing up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a woman wrestles with faith, family, and her own mind. Poet, essayist, and fiction writer Myer was shaped by "the limited characters available to women in Mormonism: fallen woman or wife." In her starkly revealing debut memoir, she recounts her struggle to define herself beyond those two roles, which, she came to realize, were "only a highly concentrated version of America." Even outside of her religion, she was expected "to be the dentist's wife, the artist's wife, the killer's wife: whoever I hook myself to stains me with his choices." Her struggle was intensified by her family. Her bipolar mother retreated into depression, which Myer later understood to be rage turned inward; her father protected his wife from their children, leaving Myer feeling abandoned. Molested by a teenage cousin when she was 7, at 12, she encouraged the physical attentions of a 15-year-old neighbor, let the paperboy "(sin sin sin) feel my breasts," and suffered a sexual assault by a 26-year-old man. That traumatic experience didn't stop her from going to a man's hotel room when she was "maybe thirteen….We keep our clothes on, mostly." Myer calls these encounters "wiving." As she writes, "I have been wiving since I was a little girl. I am good at wiving. I fail at wiving. Both are true." Seeing a man happy "will light me up all my life, no matter how many times it is the exact wrong thing to do, the wrong man to cheer." That is her job, as written in the Scriptures: "and if you are to be good at it, you have to start practicing early." Promiscuousness also assuaged a fear that she was unlovable, "that, without another person to see me, I disappear, I cease to matter." Myer recounts in candid detail her process of self-discovery and eventual, hard-won empowerment. An absorbing, emotionally raw confessional memoir. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.