Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney (feat. Grethen Wieners)

"I've been single for my entire life. Not one boyfriend. Not one short-term dating situation. Not one person with whom I regularly hung out and kissed on the face."
So begins Katie Heaney's memoir of her years spent looking for love, but never quite finding it. By age 25, equipped with a college degree, a load of friends, and a happy family life, she still has never had a boyfriend ... and she's barely even been on a second date.
Throughout this laugh-out-loud funny book, you will meet Katie's loyal group of girlfriends, including flirtatious and outgoing Rylee, the wild child to Katie's shrinking violet, as well as a whole roster of Katie's ill-fated crushes. And you will get to know Katie herself -- a smart, modern heroine relaying truths about everything from the subtleties of a Facebook message exchange to the fact that "Everybody who works in a coffee shop is at least a little bit hot."
Funny, relatable, and inspiring, this is a memoir for anyone who has ever struggled to find love, but has also had a lot of fun in the process. 

I first came across this book on one of my Twitter browsing adventures looking for news to pass on. I came across a tweet by Grand Central Publishing to announce the publication of a new book called Never Have I Ever. We all know or have played this infamous drinking game. It piqued my interest. As soon as I read the premise, I knew I had to read this book, and I was not disappointed.

According to Katie Heaney, author of the book Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date, there are two types of dating personalities: the lighthouse and the Bermuda Triangle.

A lighthouse is a person who other people are inexplicably drawn to. They emit a light that draws people toward them, like the Greek sirens beckoning sailors to shore and into their waiting arms. (Albeit, this is not the function of an actual lighthouse, but work with her, okay?) Lighthouses are rarely, if ever, single, and even when they are a gaggle of sailors is waiting in the wings for the chance to come ashore. My brother, for
instance, is a lighthouse. From high school onward, seeing my brother single was like witnessing a solar eclipse. Intriguing and fleeting. Whenever one of his long-term relationships ended, nary would he take a breath before he was diving into another. I was both envious of his ability to bounce back after each break up and awed by this infinite capacity to love others. (I am happy to say sorry, ladies, he's engaged to a wonderful woman. His light is off.)

On the other end of the spectrum is the Bermuda Triangle. In the words of Katie Heaney, "the Bermuda Triangle is so far from sailors' minds that it is even really on the map." The Bermuda Triangle doesn't push sailors away or try to capsize their ships, and it may be a great place once you're there. You may even want to get lost in it. The trouble with the Bermuda Triangle is that so few sailors cruise it's way that it doesn't know how to react when one does. It gets nervous, spills something, tells a joke nobody gets, comes on to strong with its wave action, and ultimately ends up with a shipwreck or two.

I, much like Katie, am a Bermuda Triangle.

I think that's one of the reasons I related so much to this book. It felt like many of Katie's anecdotes could be torn out of my own diaries. I could relate to her experience finding her way through high school, navigating the different cliques and social circles, searching for a best friend. Unlike Miss Heaney, I did have one "boyfriend" in high school, though I sometimes doubt I could call him that, and have not had a relationship since. But our college experiences were nearly identical. I could see myself making many of the same dating mistakes Katie made. Not only could I see it, I've done it. I've though a guy was interested in me only to find out he started seeing someone else. I've sought advice from all of my friends on how to send a text that exuded confidence and interest but was still casual and aloof. I've drunkenly made out with a stranger at a party just to prove I could. Most importantly, much like our author, I was and am perpetually single. And I completely understand her hesitation to jump into a relationship just for the sake of having one.

For Katie Heaney, dating is just not a priority. Instead, she finds great pleasure in cultivating and nurturing her friendships. The most prevalent of these friends is her friend Riley. At first, I couldn't understand why they were friends, but I started seeing a lot of the same traits that Riley has in my own friend. I think we all have that one friend that is the complete opposite of ourselves and that we would never let go for the world. For Katie, that's Riley. This relationship is by far the most important in the entire book, and I would definitely read a buddy memoir just about their antics together.

The most important thing to understand about Never Have I Ever is that despite the depiction that Katie is clueless about dating and socializing with the opposite sex, she is actually pretty together and she does get it. Sure dating is great, but it doesn't have to command your life. In this society where sex is everywhere, but women are further scrutinized for embracing their sexuality, books like this one help us to explore women's freedom to choose their own sexual identity. I highly recommend this one.

Overall rating: 5 espresso shots!

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