Friday, May 22, 2009

Happens Every Day

I don't know the last time that I read a book straight through without stopping, but I did just that with this one. I don't mean that figuratively, I mean I really read the entire book without coming up for air. Somewhere between New York and Minneapolis I uncovered a story and a life that reads so thoroughly indulgent while being of the most ordinary in nature.

The memoir feels like a long conversation with a good friend, and yes, I know how cliche that sounds. Yet, reading Gillies' words actually mimics what it would be like for your best friend to call you out of the blue and divulge all of her personal secrets, all of her heartbreak, all of her behind-closed-doors memories. You wouldn't tire of the story, you wouldn't change the subject out of boredom. You would sit there with your jaw on the table, leaning forward for more.

The reason for this, of which I am quite convinced, is due to Gillie's lack of training. She isn't a writer and writing a book isn't at all the point. She mentions early on in the book that she has been complimented on her emails a few times, which gave her the go-ahead to try a memoir. Isn't that gorgeous!?

Happens Every Day is the first thing she has written, and after getting to know dear Isabel on these pages, is quite a triumph for a woman who has felt a bit sub par in the intelligence category for many years (and yes, I blame her ex-husband for that.) She quite simply sat down in a public library and just told her story as we would tell it to our girlfriends over email, I'm not joking. Its EXTRAORDINARY that this works, mark my words.

In addition, Gillies tells the story we want to hear... the unedited version. It is quite simply the story of The Human Unraveling, specifically of a marriage. We've heard it before, after all isn't the divorce rate 1 in 2? But Gillies lets us into her extremely ordinary tale of falling, possibly before she is ready to tell it gracefully. In Gillies exists a bit of cattiness, a few daggers, which we lick up and can't blame her for.

The story also calls into question all of our futures, of course. What if our own lives are dismantled, what if our sweet, sweet, unseen future involves a husband leaving? What if we are the victim of an extramarital affair, what if we are the 1 in the 1 in 2?

Gillies thought that she had the perfect life, the perfect marriage, the perfect husband. She's a smart girl and wouldn't have married for any other reason. But this happened to her. It happens every day. Well, that, dear friends, is the point of the book, now isn't it? Its about a tumultuous happening in one's lifetime that ultimately will heal. Its about getting over the mountain, about what happens at the END of the journey, not during it.

The epilogue makes this book worthy of your time, worthy of your heart and your investment. (Trust me, your heart will enter the pages, it has to.) I fell in love with Isabel and with her vulnerability. She is the voice of so many, told in such a lovely, lovely way.

Read it. Even if you don't want to read about divorce and about unhappy things, READ IT. And when you're done, you will get a TREAT. That's right... you will get to hear Isabel Gillies speak at Madison Square Park this summer for the READ's series that my girl Alison heads. I'll remind you later about the date, but you can sure bet to see me there.


gail said...

I now want to read this book!

David Henly said...

Picked it up at Starbuck's on Friday and was done saturday early a.m. Very insightful. Would be nice to hear the tale from Josiah's perspective. A poignant reminder of the essential requirement of a true deep connection between two people to allow a relationship to survive. The real question is how do you find or know you've found that connection? Much to discuss from a book like this. Thanks.