Teas on Optimism and Divorce.
Book: Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce by Stacy Morrison
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, March 23 2010
Got it from: The library.
Why I read it: Believe it or not, I checked this out from the library completely by accident. But that’s as may be.
The verdict: 4 cups of tea.
While from the start it was apparent that Falling Apart in One Piece is A Good Book, I had a hard time relating to Stacy in the beginning – for one, I am not an optimist. I identified with Chris, Stacy’s ex husband: he was restless in his marriage, felt trapped, and Just Wanted Out so he could have room to breathe. In the only serious relationship I’ve had, I felt the exact same way. It was as if the roles were reversed: Stacy as my ex (only with a lot less optimism on his part), and Chris as me. But at the same time, Stacy is so open about everything she was thinking (i.e. compiling a list of Reasons Why He Left Me – a list whose number reaches into the hundreds), feeling, and saying. If she couldn’t recall specific dialogue used, she says so, instead of taking guesses and embellishing.
Being a woman myself, I eventually found it hard NOT to relate to Stacy in some way. Her need for control in any situation? Been there. Over analyzing What Went Wrong? Of course; what woman hasn’t? Feeling weak when having to ask for help? Oh, yeah.
Stacy does not hold anything back from the reader, and it is this openness that makes you root for her. You want things to turn around for her. Generally, when I read memoirs or stories about others’ misfortune, I do so with a detached, critical eye. All right, I won’t mince words here – I don’t care about the character. The author has to prove to me that I should, and I don’t sway easily. Stacy made her case using the tone of the book – I got the sense that she’s doing this for herself, and for other women going through the painful process of divorce. She’s not just trying to make the NYT Bestseller list and get more moolah. She doesn’t expect anything of the reader – instead, I think she hopes the reader will take something from her memoir, in that odd way only a true optimist could.
“You can handle more than you think, I told myself. You can handle more than you think by not thinking about things all the time, by not thinking about things all at once, by not being all-or-nothing…” (p87)
Morrison is so honest and real. Even though I couldn’t directly identify with everything she went through (as I’ve never been married, divorced, or have kids), she manages to leave a fragment of herself that speaks to each reader, and that reader alone. The above phrase was mine, as it’s something I need to learn on my own as Stacy did.
Stacy’s thoughts are well-organized, the best I’ve seen in a memoir. She doesn’t let the emotional turmoil of past events dictate the telling of her story – in other words, Falling Apart in One Piece is not a mash-up of jumbled half-thoughts. Considering the book’s touchy subject of divorce, this was a legitimate concern of mine that was put to rest quickly.
However, a memoir needs a little helping of mess. Stacy has analyzed and organized the mess right out of Falling. The emotional mess is important because it’s a part of being human – no one thinks in such an organized, conscientious manner. I know I certainly don’t! I struggled with this for quite a while, because Falling Apart in One Piece is so open and raw, and the organization helps the reader make sense of what Stacy’s trying to convey.
On the other hand, it also made the book read mechanical and robotic, despite my knowing that Falling Apart in One Piece isn’t either of those things – Stacy’s too honest.
I think my issue is that I’m just not used to seeing such organization in a memoir. It’s not a bad thing, and I should give Falling Apart in One Piece 5 stars for it. I can’t, though. Sorry, Stacy; I need a little mess in my memoirs. Save the analysis for a psychology publication.