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When I heard about an upcoming book tour for Donna Y. Ferris’ memoir, We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This, I was instantly sold. Here’s the bit from the synopsis that hooked me:
“When [Donna] signs up for yoga teacher training, her carefully cultivated life begins to crumble. Her husband is having an affair. Dangerous childhood secrets resurface. Her mother dies suddenly. And she doesn’t even like yoga… yet.”
Yoga memoirs and grief memoirs are my two favorite types of memoirs — what that says about me, I’m not sure. So, of course I would read this book about a woman working through yoga teacher training and grief at the same time.
This turned out to be one of my favorite reads of the year thus far. Let’s talk about why!
What I Liked
Several of the yoga memoirs I’ve read have a tendency to focus on the mystical time away — a yoga retreat, or an extended teacher training in another country. While this can be interesting to read about vicariously, it isn’t necessarily very relatable to those of us who can’t afford the cost and time commitment of YTT in Bali. (It’s me. I’m the one who can’t afford it).
While yoga retreats are wonderful and I do love to read about the experiences people have at them, that isn’t really the yoga. Yoga is sitting with what your real life brings you, every day. It’s what you do and how you are in your real life, not the mystical person you become with constant access to vegan meals and cucumber water (though, that person can be fun to step into now and again — I would know).
I appreciated how Ferris wrote about her life during the training, about what was happening in her personal and romantic life as she discovered more about yoga and those teachings helped her navigate. The writing is honest and authentic, letting us learn with Ferris as she moves through a difficult period in her life.
The structure is interesting, as well, with the book divided into parts named for different branches of Yoga. Those parts are subdivided into chapters. This organization makes the book feel quick and easy to read, even as more difficult topics like abuse and grief come into the mix.
The tone is another plus for me — Ferris writes with a light touch of humor while remaining sincere. Unlike some writers writing about yoga, Ferris never feels like she considers herself above mistakes or imperfections. I found it a highly accessible read in this regard.
What I Didn’t Like
I have few complaints about this book, since I did overall really enjoy it. I will note a couple things that stuck out, however.
One, the chapters are divided into smaller section breaks using asterisks. Mostly this works well, but there were a few times when I felt that the chapter was broken down into too small of sections, the interruptions too frequent.
Two, there are some slightly problematic statements about food and body image that are never really unpacked or addressed. These gave me slight pause as I did wonder how they might impact someone who has a history of disordered eating. I would’ve liked to see these statements reflected upon more, or perhaps left out altogether since they do not really impact the story meaningfully.
Finally, the subtitle “a memoir of missed connections” didn’t quite fit for me. I kept waiting for the missed connections to come up, and this didn’t seem as directly applicable as I expected it to be.
In all, I am so glad I got the opportunity to read this memoir! It is a wonderful picture of how yoga is just one part of a life that continues to be difficult and wonderful and confusing no matter how many trainings we take. I enjoyed watching Ferris use the tools to navigate life without implying that yoga teacher training solved all her problems forever.
I recommend this books to fans of yoga, to those navigating grief, and to those who find themselves dating again after a failed marriage or relationship. Many thanks to Love Book Tours and Donna Y. Ferris for the review copy of this book and the opportunity to be a part of the book tour!
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