On Being Human by Jennifer Pastiloff | Dutton | Book Review

Jennifer Pastiloff book review

On Being Human by Jen Pastiloff

Book Summary:

“Centered around the touchstone stories Jen tells in her popular workshops, On Being Human is the story of how a starved person grew into the exuberant woman she was meant to be all along by battling the demons within and winning.

Jen did not intend to become a yoga teacher, but when she was given the opportunity to host her own retreats, she left her thirteen-year waitressing job and said “yes,” despite crippling fears of her inexperience and her own potential. After years of feeling depressed, anxious, and hopeless, in a life that seemed to have no escape, she healed her own heart by caring for others. She has learned to fiercely listen despite being nearly deaf, to banish shame attached to a body mass index, and to rebuild a family after the debilitating loss of her father when she was eight. Through her journey, Jen conveys the experience most of us are missing in our lives: being heard and being told, “I got you.”   

Exuberant, triumphantly messy, and brave, On Being Human is a celebration of happiness and self-realization over darkness and doubt. Her complicated yet imperfectly perfect life path is an inspiration to live outside the box and to reject the all-too-common belief of “I am not enough.” Jen will help readers find, accept, and embrace their own vulnerability, bravery, and humanness.”

Publication Date:

June 4th, 2019

Genre:

Memoir

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

My Review:

On Being Human is the best title ever, and before this book, I had never heard of Jennifer Pastiloff…but the cover totally sold me. This book is primarily a memoir of Pastiloff’s life from childhood to present. She did not have an easy road and parts of this book were incredibly difficult to read but I so appreciated her honesty and her ability to share in such a raw and open way.

I always love memoirs and think sharing our stories is SO important, even when they are not totally relatable to us at first glance. I ended up connected so much with Pastiloff and found myself nodding along as I read. She has so much insight and wisdom but in a completely approachable manner.

I felt like she was talking to me, not down to me with her writing. And while she now leads retreats all over the world, it felt like I was just talking to a friend who happened to be introspective but also totally real. Pastiloff writes about how we talk down to ourselves and believe our own bullshit stories which can make us think we are not good enough.

Many people have tried to share this message before but it has never come across like this to me..maybe because they felt they have conquered it? Pastifloff it is relatable because this is something that is a lifelong struggle, no matter the hurdles you face and accomplishments you “achieve”. She has this humility about her that made this different than anything I have read before.

I especially appreciated her sections on her struggles with her mental health. While it isn’t exactly a “self-help” book I found so many thought-provoking lines that I kept underlining throughout.

“Depression is a response to past loss, and anxiety is a response to future loss.”

“ There will always be the one who doesn’t like you, the one who says, ‘No, you should not do this, Yes, you suck’. And we always always have two choices: keep going or shut down.”

Sometimes her honestly made me a bit uncomfortable, but I think that is what made this book so powerful. I can’t put my finger on it as it took me a bit to get into the book and I wasn’t sure about for it a while but now that I am finished, I can’t stop thinking about it. She has a unique ability to share in a way that made me think about my own choices and reactions in my life as well and it is one I won’t forget as a reader.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dutton for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Normal People by Sally Rooney | Crown Publishing | Book Review

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Book Review-32.png

Book Summary:

“At school, Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal. 

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.”

My Ratings:

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

My Review:

I was very intrigued to read Normal People by Sally Rooney as I have heard such varying responses from the book community. I have not read any of Rooney’s writing previously, so her storytelling style was totally new for me. Normal People is a character study and definitely isn’t plot driven so if you are looking for a fast-paced read this might not be the right fit. We meet Marianne and Connell and follow them through adolescence and into early adulthood.

This reads a bit like a YA novel but it is quite deep and while I can’t say that I enjoyed reading it, I did get a lot out of it. I appreciate that Rooney was able to able to take on such important topics like class, social status and mental health issues which all played into the relationship between these two main characters in so many different ways. It is an awkward and depressing novel but it also caused me to do a lot of reflection as the reader.

While I can’t say that I loved this book, I am glad I read it and I applaud Rooney for writing a book that covered so many uncomfortable yet powerful topics while not using them to “hype up” her storytelling. Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams | Gallery Books | NetGalley ARC | Book Review

Book Review-2.png

“Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle-class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.”


Queenie took some time for me to get into because after reading the book summary, I was thinking this was going to be a lighter read. It ended up being quite heavy and covered quite a few issues that made this one quite a lot deeper than I initially expected. I was so happy to see that mental health, unhealthy relationships, feminism, and race issues were discussed openly and with great detail.

I struggled a bit with being frustrated with Queenie and some of her choices regarding men and dating but that was my own reaction. Queen seems like a relatable read for someone in their 20s as it is a coming of age story and Queenie learns a lot through trial and error. I enjoyed seeing her process to self-love and although I could not relate to all of it I think this will be a hit with a lot of readers. Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for an e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.