Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Book Review: Love Junkie by Rachel Resnick

Love Junkie initially caught my eye because of the title. 
I’m not a huge non-fiction reader, but it is a memoir and, after flipping through a few of the pages, found the language easy to read, with a flow that allowed for quick reading.

What is Love Junkie about? Here’s the summary on the book jacket:
Rachel Resnick hits her forties single, broke, depressed, childless – a trainwreck. After an ex-boyfriend breaks into her home and vandalizes it, Resnick takes the time to look back over her romantic and sexual history and ask the question: What is wrong with me? Her addiction to sex and love has cost her in damaging ways throughout the course of her life. At the root of her issues: a Dickensian childhood and a haunting experience she must finally confront.

I was not impressed. More to the point, I was disappointed. The book jacket summary sounded intriguing, allowing a glimpse into a damaged but interesting life that I have no first-hand knowledge of. However, what I found was a memoir written by a selfish, irresponsible woman who doesn’t want to take responsibility for the part she has played in her damaging behavior. Even at the end of the book she has not sought therapy for her troubles, but is attending a self-help group – women only. She overcomes the need for a man by starting a relationship with one of the female members of this group. (Prior to the women only group, she was in a group where she contemplated having a relationship with a male member). At no time does she seek medical or psychological help. I also found that at the end, she congratulates herself on the ability to write this book as a form of healing. Perhaps, but I am not convinced.

As far as the writing style, it is indeed a quick read. You can skim through much of what she says without reading it in detail. Ms. Resnick’s writing style is somewhat erratic. Throughout the book, she jumps from present to the past – associating her destructive behavior with a childhood memory. While many writers do this to create a deeper understanding of the story, I found, after a point, that it was unnecessary and a bit tiresome.

When I finished the book, I felt robbed. I did not feel sorry for Ms. Resnick, I felt angry. Perhaps this is a sign of a successful book? It certainly evoked strong emotions – disgust and anger being the two strongest. These emotions most certainly have impacted my view of her writing style, as it is tied so completely together with her story (and the feel of her personality in this memoir). However, I think that the glimpse into the life of a sex addict was interesting. Like any addiction, it’s enlightening to see inside the minds of those who suffer from it, especially when it is unfamiliar. This was definitely a glimpse into an unknown world.

I don’t regret that I read this memoir. What I’m left with is a sense of disbelief that Ms. Resnick seems unable to accept blame for her destructive behavior. Perhaps that is what I disliked most about this book?

But, that brings us to another question: What makes a successful book? Is it the emotions, good or bad, that it evokes? Or is it something else?

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