Untamed: A book review & tea pairing
Updated: Jan 19
Book star rating: 4/5
Tea pairing: Fierce B*tch by Snarky Tea
As I've now read this book twice this year, I think I'm well positioned to write a review about it. The first time I read it was shortly after it was released in March of this year. I'd actually had tickets to her book launch event in Washington, D.C., which was sadly cancelled due to the COVID outbreak. Then, my book club chose it for our November read, and I decided to dive back in, despite having already read it this year. I'm glad I did.
While I can't say I've been a Glennon follower all the way back to when she first started "Christian mommy" blogging in 2009, I have been following her for many years now. Her second memoir in particular, Love Warrior, was a book that resonated with me on a very deep level.
A bit of important context about Glennon Doyle
Glennon rocked her fans' worlds in 2016. If you don't know, Love Warrior is a memoir about Doyle's marriage to Craig Melton and her own heartbreak and healing after he discloses having cheated on her. The memoir ends with a beautifully painted scene of them recommitting to each other on the beach.
The book was seriously hyped before its release. However, somewhere between its writing and its publication, Glennon fell in love with a woman (retired soccer star Abby Wambach) and left her husband.
Despite this rather drastic mismatch between the feel/ending of her soon-to-be-released memoir and how her life and love now looked, Glennon made the brave decision to share this change in her personal life with the world before her book tour began. It was an especially bold move, considering she had first made a name for herself as a "Christian mommy blogger" with a traditional family, and the professional fallout would likely be enormous.
But Glennon's thing is all about living an honest, true, "brutiful" life, and her choice to come out at a time that could potentially be career suicide is one I respect. She has indeed alienated many of her original readers, but by doing so she's gained new ones, and I like to think she doesn't mind. As she likes to say, "People will either come around or stop coming around. Either way, lovely."
What to expect from Untamed
The book opens with a story, a metaphor, of Glennon taking her children to the zoo and seeing the cheetah run. The cheetah has been taught to follow behind a labrador in this crowd-pleasing stunt, but Glennon is struck by the beauty and the wild still in the cheetah. She prowls around her enclosure as though she can innately sense that there is more to the world than what she has seen. The wild is still in her. It's not a labrador, she thinks, it's a goddamn Cheetah.
Less memoir than advice book, this is the story of how Glennon works to shed the world's expectations of her to live a true, honest, and beautiful life. It shares stories from her struggles with bulimia and alcoholism, her process of leaving her husband to make a new life married to a woman, the lessons she continues to learn as a parent, and her process of growing into a responsible, anti-racist philanthropist.
Expect lots of apt metaphors (even if they are sometimes mixed), short chapters, rhythmic language, and an unabashed opinion of how to do life right, according to Glennon.
My thoughts on Untamed
A friend I respect and admire who also happens to be a clinical psychologist said of the book, "Well, it's obvious she went to therapy! And now she's passing it off as her own." I see what she means. Nothing in the book is "new" information or advice. I can see revelations from therapy, yes. I can also see a lot of Buddhist principles and perspectives and plenty of advice you can find in other books and from other teachers.
However, I don't think that makes a book devoid of value. At this point in the world, you'd be hard pressed to find a book that's entirely new, that doesn't remind you of something else you've read or heard. We don't read books to find something totally new. We read books to delve into people's unique experiences to see how they translate those very ancient life lessons into words. The process of doing that is intensely personal and therefore unique.
Glennon's take on life is one worth reading. Her use of metaphor and rhythm drive essential life lessons home in a powerful way. While she definitely errs on the side of preachy in this latest, you can't claim she doesn't practice what she preaches. Her honesty and straightforwardness make it difficult to hide from our own truths to continue clinging to the comfortable lies we tell ourselves.
I mentioned that it's more of an advice book than a memoir. Glennon admits to being a person who likes control, and that comes through in the book. When she shares her personal experiences and anecdotes, it's accompanied with: here's what it means, and here's how you apply that lesson to your life.
She leaves very little room for interpretation, which is the opposite of what I typically love about memoirs (compare it with, say, The Glass Castle on the other side of the spectrum). She's definitely ignored the common writerly advice to "Show, don't tell." What Glennon does is Show AND Tell. Maybe it's the elementary school teacher in her, and she can't help herself.
My experience with the book can be summed up in that ever-popular adage:
"We read to know that we are not alone."
from Shadowlands by William Nicholson
Anyone who has grown up in a culture that tells you there is only ONE way to live your life (and there's a good chance that's just about all of us), but who has realized that shape of life isn't what they really want, will likely find comfort and validation in Glennon's words.
Untamed is a call to action to reclaim our souls from the world and to live the lives we imagine for ourselves, not the lives we were told to imagine.
Here's an excerpt that will give you a good feel for the book:
"How can we begin to live from our imagination instead of our indoctrination?
Language is my favorite tool, so I use it to help people build a bridge between what's in front of them and what's inside of them. I have learned that if we want to hear the voice of imagination, we must speak to it in the language it understands.
If we want to know who we were meant to be before the world told us who to be --
If we want to know where we were meant to go before we were put in our place --
If we want to taste freedom instead of control --
Then we must relearn our soul's native tongue."
Tea Pairing: Fierce B*tch by Snarky Teas
I've paired this book with the Fierce B*tch tea from Snarky Tea, a company I found recently and really get a kick out of. It's a woman-owned small business that gives no f*cks about people taking offense to their humor. As soon as I found it, I knew it would make a perfect pairing with Glennon's no-nonsense book. Snarky Tea's motto is:
Health. Humor. Happiness.
In their own words, here's some more about their company:
"Our tea... is not a whisper. Our tea is screaming Beyoncé karaoke lyrics. Our tea is ASMR of Brad Pitt saying you look cute today. Our tea is the sound of a room bursting with laughter after you make another clever joke, you funny thing you. Basically, our tea is bold as f**k."
The Fierce B*tch tea is a rose-flavored black tea that's got a little more kick to it than your typical breakfast tea. It manages to be both delicate and bold, not to mention all-around delicious.
Pro tip: make sure you don't over-steep this one! Black teas only like 3-4 minutes of steeping time, or they develop a bitter taste. It's less is more when it comes to black teas.
While I generally prefer loose leaf tea, this is a very high quality tea pyramid (not bag), through which you can see the quality of the tea is clearly comparable to the best loose leaf.
I also appreciate their tea pyramids are 100% biodegradable and plastic-free.
Have fun browsing their site. It's full of snark and fun references (if you love Mean Girls, you'll definitely get a kick out of some of their descriptions).
You can get 10% off your order if you shop through this link, and I wouldn't delay! They have been selling out of their most popular products. I think some of their teas and mugs would be a great present for a friend or loved one with a love of tea and a great sense of humor.
And how fun would it be to send someone a gift package for a friend with a copy of Untamed and some tea and mug from Snarky Tea!
That's a great gift idea, I know. You're welcome 😊.
Have you read Untamed yet? What did you think of it?
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