Writer Anna David finds herself in a dilemma familiar to many 20- and 30-somethings: we wake up one morning and realize, Hey. This? Not what I imagined my life would be. I’m supposed to be married — or coupled up, at least. Maybe headed towards starting a family. Finding a more fulfilling career — and a better living situation. Better style, composure, sophistication. Something else.
Angry with her propensity to fall for unavailable men and desperate to avoid the vestiges of her last failed non-relationship, David turns to an old book for help: Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl, a how-to guide for the “modern” woman. Cutting-edge at the time of its 1962 publication, Sex becomes David’s new gospel as she navigates making changes to her stagnant life. Though she surrounds herself with great friends, her family life remains troubled — and any attempts to find “The One” on sites like Match.com prove fruitless. But once David tries new things according to Brown’s recommendations — everything from redecorating her apartment to attending a snobby pottery class — she begins to see major changes. And these changes could lead to something big.
Anna David’s Falling For Me is the latest in memoirs written by young, talented and beautiful writers about how they thought they would find everything they ever wanted in New York City [or insert glittery city here], but didn’t. Though I didn’t find anything truly novel about David’s take, I enjoyed this fun and often informative read.
My favorite bits of Falling For Me came when David was at her most vulnerable and self-deprecating. I appreciated her unique brand of humor and could definitely see fragments of myself in her story. I think most women will relate in some way to David’s plight; it’s all part of the human experience. No matter how successful, everyone has gotten a glimpse of themselves in a mirror and thought, Who is that? David sets out to answer that question — and I think that was brave.
But . . . but. I don’t know. I guess knowing that David is a writer with several novels and other works under her belt made this feel sort of gimmicky to me. Like she said, Hey, I want to write a book about making my life better so I’m going to make my life better and write a book. It just felt so meta, you know what I mean? I don’t mean in any way to imply David was disingenuine; on the contrary, I thought she was very honest about both her past and present. I couldn’t shake the “writing about writing” navel-gazing feeling I got, though. I’m guess I’m also jaded by reading Cathy Alter’s Up For Renewal, which is a memoir detailing a divorcee’s quest to improve her life in a year based on the advice in magazines. Same premise, different writer.
And yes, David’s moral is the same (and a good one): no one can love you until you love yourself. You must improve who you are — spirtually, emotionally, physically — until you’re putting your best self out there. When you do that — when you’re truly happy in your own skin — you’ll find whatever it is you’re seeking. I get that — and I agree. Though it bears repeating, we’ve sung this song before.
What sets Falling For Me apart from other memoirs, though, is the way Brown’s advice — seen through David’s lens — got me thinking about myself. We’ve all heard the ol’ “If you haven’t worn it in a year, throw it out” sentiment regarding our bursting wardrobes, but the way David actually does just that got me considering my own cluttered closet. The book also served as a reminder for me to surround myself with positive people and things that make me happy. When David embarks on a challenge to keep from judging others, gossiping or complaining, I thought about the many times a day I do those things myself. And I definitely want to change that.
Fans of memoirs, motivational reading and David herself will find Falling For Me to be an interesting read full of funny anecdotes with a very human narrator. While I wish the genre had felt a little more original, I think David’s contribution to the world of self-exploration is a worthy one.
Check out the book trailer for more information on Anna, Sex and the Single Girl and more.
3.5 out of 5!