Thursday, September 05, 2019

I'm Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagán - Book Review

Writing a book review after a long time. 
This book -' I'm Fine and Neither Are You' was part of our book club read last month.
I think if the title was any clue to what lies ahead in the chapters, you can practically predict that its written for most of us, who carry on day to day saying ‘I’m fine’ without ever meaning to say it but in most cases just the opposite. I could relate to the book on so many levels and not just to one character but there were situations where I could see myself playing several roles.

To summarize the book. It’s a story about a woman readying herself to face the realities of her life and coming up with the realization that she can’t do it all, let alone do it all on her own and make it look effortless.

Sounds familiar? Yeah, me too.
She was jolted into looking deeper into her life after the sudden demise of her best friend who seemed to have had everything together in her life specially as she laid it out on her picture-perfect blog. The dead best friend as you might have guessed had created a curated version of her life on social media that others assumed was the whole reality including the main character of the book.

The main character, a wife, a mother, a full-time employee had a husband that didn’t work outside the house and didn’t do much to help in the house either. And she never questioned his behavior or asked him to step up to the needs of the family. Similarly, she had a high demanding job but never stood up for her rights at work or to bring to attention of her superiors the amount of effort she’s putting into her work. And guess what, the job wasn’t her first choice she was just sticking to it since she was the sole bread winner.

You might question her behavior and think that’s unusual but of course there’s back story and she was carrying her own baggage and fighting her own insecurities.

You might think, oh! I now know the summary of the book and don’t need to read it, but I think it’s not the story-line, it’s the way situations make you think about your own action or reaction to the circumstances. The book can make you cry and laugh at the same time. You can imagine being on the toilet seat, in front of the dirty sink, behind the desk on a boring task, frustrated by the lack of opportunities right alongside the characters of the book, you’d mourn the loss of dreams that never took flight and you’d hope for a happy ending on a porch swing watching a sunset, all within the confines of these words.
Apart from the main character’s struggles, the facade that her best friend lived with was also poignant. Not only did she portray a perfect life on the blog for her readers but even her close friends believed that the life she’s sharing publicly is the only life she’s got. It makes me ponder over the facades that we live with in our own lives. Not just the curated posts for the social media but also story that we share with others in real life. No one can know everything about your life, they’d know only what you share and in turn your partial story becomes who you are and many folks in your life might believe that it’s the whole of you.

So, after all these details it probably won’t come as a surprise, but I’d really recommend this book. The story-line might seem a little cliched, but the writing style is inspiring and the characters relate-able. I think we can all drop a few facades and hope that we’ll be accepted for who we are rather than what others expect us to be.
As for me I just hope to find it in me to say, “I’m Not Fine” the next time I find myself struggling rather than putting up a brave face, saying “I’m fine”, and continue with a disgruntled attitude.

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