As a follower of Amanda de Cadenet on some social media; Instagram specifically, I was aware of this collection of essays she had written. Watching her IG stories and seeing nervous excitement and a sweet vulnerability as the book was released and giving readings in New York City gave additional glimpses into who she is.
This book isn't 'polished' per say, it's raw and intimate; spoken in her strong voice. Ms de Cadenet has a presence and although not a 'star' in the conventional sense she has lived an fascinating wild life, and that's why I was intrigued to both follow her and read this collection. She draws on her past experiences and although some stories are outrageous and much different than my own upbringing, any girl or woman can most likely relate to something in this book. She touches upon some of the difficulties many girls suffer growing up and entering adulthood and it is thought provoking. Admittedly I was instantly empathetic as some of her experiences have been mine as well. It seems as though de Cadenet has lived more of a life by the time she was a wife and mother at the young age of 19 than most people do by the time they are mid 40s, the age she is now. However, as the title implies, she doesn't present these things in an idealized manner. Rather, she uses them to discuss the importance of finding ones self as a woman instead of being what a patriarchal society may expect. There are her thoughts about sex, body image; and the cultural influences that shape unrealistic expectations for women. This book makes you tear up and laugh out loud from one essay to the next. I loved the sheer authenticity as well as the advice she gives almost as much to herself as to her readers. Reflecting on my own rise to womanhood while reading her essays, there have been some tricky situations and tough spots along the way. I will say that if you are sensitive to the past, there may be some triggers within these pages.
Overall, Amanda de Cadenet is clever and provocative and this book was an easy read, much akin to chatting with a girlfriend over wine.