Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It's Not Okay - Andi Dorfman

It's Not Okay
Title: It's Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Never After
Author: Andi Dorfman
Publication Date: 5/10/16
Pages: 320
Genre: Memoir / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I watched Dorfman's season of The Bachelorette.
Date Completed: 12/29/16

Summary: Andi Dorfman rose to reality fame when she chewed out Bachelor Juan Pablo on national television after their overnight date. She went on to start as The Bachelorette and endure a very public breakup with her fiancĂ©, Josh Murray. 

What I Thought: The rise of the Bachelor memoir has been quite interesting to watch over the past few years. I've talked before about how I enjoy watching the show, though not every season. It's a guilty pleasure, to be sure. Kevin loathes it, but my sister, girlfriends, and I all get a kick out of watching and dissecting the absurd "reality" of the show. 

That perception of reality is what makes these post-show memoirs so interesting. I get that these books are opportunities for Bachelor franchise stars to hang on to their fifteen minutes for a bit longer, but still. They offer glimpses behind the scenes and into the real relationships that stem from the show. It is particularly interesting when a big name from the show, like Dorfman, releases such a tell-all. 

Thus far, the Bachelor books have spanned a wide range of dirt dishing and personal reflection. Dorfman's memoir falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. It's certainly closer to Courtney Robertson's trashy tell-all than any of the others I have read. Yet, her whole premise is breakup recovery, and so it necessarily includes a lot of self-reflection as well. 

Dorfman holds little back. She has a mouth like a sailor and is not shy about sharing her true feelings - as vicious as they might be. She accuses Murray of lots of things including verbal and emotional abuse. It's pretty shocking at times. Still, nothing was particularly surprising. Having watched both of these people on television (not that such an activity means I know them well at all), the demise of their relationship did not come as a surprise. I'm sure both Dorfman and Murray had their share of faults and failures in the relationship, but it's important to keep in mind that this is Dorfman's side of the story. It is, of coursed, biased toward her own perspectives. Still, considering Murray just went through another Bachelor franchise breakup, her harsh words for him may not be too exaggerated after all.

Dorfman purportedly wrote the book in the two months directly following her breakup. Each chapter is from a different post-breakup day. Each chapter ends with a "lesson," although I would hardly call most of them real morals to the story. It's all more about what you need to do to get through the rough time and care for yourself. I certainly don't endorse all of Dorfman's ideas, but I do like that she gave herself room to not be okay after what was clearly such a life-altering change. And, on a personal note, some of her thoughts gave me room to forgive myself for some decisions made in the wake of my own traumatic breakup many years ago. 

The one thing that really drove me crazy is how Dorfman referred to all the guys by code names. Murray becomes "Number Twenty-Six" and Nick Viall, current Bachelor, becomes "Number Twenty-Five" and so on. I have no doubt Dorfman, a former lawyer, was covering her butt in case of libel suits, but still. Everyone knows who you are really talking about so the subterfuge became obnoxious at times.

It was helpful, too, to see Dorfman's thought process in moving to New York and leaving behind her law career after The Bachelorette and the breakup. I think a lot of fans were confused by that move, but Dorfman does a good job of explaining why it was the right move for her personally. I appreciated her understanding that the judgments of internet strangers and tv watchers should not dictate what she does with her own life. 

The book is interesting and will definitely keep any fan of the franchise hooked. It's been on my TBR for a while now, but ending 2016 with a book entitled It's Not Okay just seemed too perfect to resist. Last year was just not okay. Sure, I didn't go through a breakup (and have no intention of ever doing so again), but there were really hard things about last year. Dorfman's strategies for grief and self-care can certainly be applied to other situations as well. It felt right to finish such a hard year on a book about coping with disappointment and lost dreams. And, in the same conclusion Dorfman comes to at the end of the book, we must move on and explore new dreams and new hopes with a fresh start. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Probably not
Other Books By Bachelor Contestants: I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends / For the Right Reasons / I Said Yes

A Reduced Review: Dorfman pulls no punches in her feisty tell-all breakup memoir. 

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