I need to apologize in advance. I strive not to be publicly critical of others. The hitch is that I promised to write this book review. As it turns out, the book in question is not one that I loved.
This past January, Leslie Roberts (Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After) offered an incentive on her blog for readers to receive a copy of Rachel Hollis’s book ‘Girl, Wash Your Face.’ I had heard briefly about ‘Girl’ and knew that it had been on the New York Times Best Seller list (for 32 weeks). I entered my name and, voilà, Leslie generously sent me a copy.
Leslie and I quickly established a pattern of writing back and forth to each other after every chapter read. We did this at our own paces, in a non-hurried manner. This gave us room for more in-depth discussion. We also brought our unique styles to the review process with Leslie taking a much more personal approach and me usually being the devil’s advocate.
Beginning with the positives, this book is an easy read that offers solid reminders.
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
- Surround yourself with positivity.
- Figure out what makes you happy.
Although none of these ideas are new, they do make sense. The problem is, Hollis tells us all of this in Chapter One and keeps repeating these thoughts, sometimes repackaged, throughout the next nineteen chapters. I smell word count!
Being fair, Hollis does add in other advice of value.
- Repeatedly blowing off the promises that we make to ourselves (in order to please everyone else) is not okay.
- Bringing others down will not elevate you (no matter how hard you try).
- Our judgments keep us from connecting in more profound ways. We become trapped in the surface-level assumptions that we make.
- Just because you believe it doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone.
- When you are feeling unsure of yourself, or just had a significant life change, stay off of Pinterest.
Again, these are wise sentiments, but which of these is new to you?
Despite my best efforts, Hollis’s writing simply did not grab me. I tried hard to remain balanced. (Honest, I did!) I diligently found and noted as many positive takeaways as I could. Nevertheless, Hollis’ (poorly written) words increasingly struck me as shallow and repetitive.
Her constant humble bragging was irksome. To share just two (from a multiple of examples), “I am one of the most organized people I have ever met”. And, “very few people (and I can say this confidently) can mind-over-matter themselves as well as I can.” Ironically, she then went on to write, “I have never thought of myself as conceited.”
Even when the core of Hollis’s thinking made sense, it was frequently marred by oversimplification. She finally said ‘no’ to her abusive boyfriend, and there he was, suddenly at her door, magically transformed into top-shelf husband material. Similarly, after finding a workaround to producing her first book (that had been repeatedly rejected), publishers quickly saw the light and sought her out. In Hollis’s defense, she does thinly veil this triumph by saying that it doesn’t always happen this way. (You don’t say!)
To add insult to injury, her expressions were often annoying and sometimes downright horrifying. “Keep on trucking,” “so stinking thankful,” “y’all,” “obvi,” “we are doing pretty good,” and calling her coworkers “cats,” fell into the first category. The worst of the later included, “Lord Jesus, I’m going to rip off both (my son’s) arms and whack him over the head with them.” After that poor choice of imagery, she later went on to describe obsessively planning her husband’s and children’s funerals as a coping method for her fears. I still shudder thinking about it.
Hollis unequivocally claimed, “The mamas who follow me in Dubai have a lot of the same concerns for themselves and their families as the mamas in Manila or Dublin or Mexico City.” She shared with us that her proudest moment was when she purchased a $1,000 Louis Vuitton handbag. She then went on to say that one of her top goals is to own a vacation home in Hawaii by the time that she is 40. Reality gap — this privileged thinking is not representative of most “mommas around the world.” Enough said.
Believing there must be something that I was missing, I read a free sample from her earlier book, ‘Party Girl.’ A reviewer on Goodreads had given it a two-star review (a fact that Hollis vehemently lamented in ‘Girl’). Let me share a taste of that this book (based on Hollis’ real-life experience) so that you can judge for yourself.
” I wrap another piece of long blonde hair around the outside of the flat iron and stare at my reflection in the mirror while the curl heats to perfection. My big blue eyes shine back, outlined all around by the perfect shade of teal liner. The few clusters of individual lashes I add are definitely the right choice. They really stand out against the shimmery champagne coating on my lids. The eye shadow matches the MAC Lipglass in glittery pink that I’ve bought just for this day. There’s a little shimmer in my bronzer too, so my makeup ties in beautifully with the gold rhinestones lining the collar of my fitted pink cardigan. I smile at my own shining reflection. All the light-catching glimmer is gorgeous, and so me. If I had a power color, it would definitely be sparkle.”
Two stars?! I actually believe the reviewer was kind. This is the exact star rating that I sadly need to give to ‘Girl, Wash Your Face,’
Still, I am glad to have read this book. Receiving it from a blogging friend (who jumped several hoops to ensure I received a copy in Canada) was an unexpected kindness.
Being able to share our different perspectives back and forth, in a private, and safe manner, deeply provoked my thinking. Reading the strong, personal thoughts that this book brought out for Leslie, reminded me that although Hollis’s words didn’t resonate with me, they can (and do) have an entirely different effect on others. You can read Leslie’s review here.
Have you read ‘Girl,’ or any of Hollis’ works? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Photo Credits: Unsplash