When I review a book I keep a notes file on my phone of my favourite quotes as I go along – things I know I’ll find useful when I come to putting hand to keyboard to try and explain why the book is worth a read. I’d wanted to get my hands on Laura Jane Williams’ Becoming ever since she announced she had a book deal and in support of her amazing achievement I even pre-ordered. Having followed her blog for years I wanted, in some small way, to show her I was somehow ‘with her’, cheering her on. As a fan of her writing, I was super proud of her publishing deal and just, you know, that small feat of having written an ACTUAL BOOK (something I aspire to do but find so intimidating I wouldn’t know where to start). Anyway, back to my notes on this book: I took WAY MORE than any other book I’ve read recently. Reams and reams of profound, clever, relatable (“YES, that is so TRUE/so ME/so RIGHT!!!”) stuff that it struck me how much of a good job Laura has done with this book. She is ever quotable – I’ve always found snippets in her blogs that feel like missives for life, they deserve to be on a t-shirt or on a mug reminding you you’re not alone and you haven’t lost your way. Becoming is a book I think every young (adult – it’s not pre-watershed material) woman should read.
The book is a tale of Laura discovering how to make herself happy and how to do that on her own, without a man by her side. It begins with the end of her long-term relationship (no spoilers here, you find this out very early on) and how this was her unravelling, but also the making of her too, as often horrible things can be.
She writes with breathtaking honesty, her soul leaps from the page, warts, emotions, sexual exploits and all as you follow her to Italy where she tries to move on from the pain she leaves behind.
It sounds emotional and it is, but it’s also funny, and so, so real, it’s hard to put down. Everyone, whether you are loved up, single, sad or happy will be able to relate to parts of her story as long as you’ve ever been your own worst enemy, and wondered how to love yourself before anyone else should.
One of the best bits of the book is when she writes a letter to herself, with all the wisdom and compassion someone who has been bruised enough to try and discover how best to live life understands, and it reminded me a little of Caitlin Moran’s famous letter to her daughter. Laura doesn’t claim to have it all worked out (far from it if you continue to read her blog) but she does find out and share some important life truths along the way. That’s the thing about Laura, every word she writes brings you along – you’re with her every step of the way, rooting for her to break through and be happy.
And boy, can she tell a story. You sometimes forget this is a true story of her life, she tells it with such colour, flair and passion at times you feel you’re reading a ‘chick lit’ novel but an intelligent one, with flawed, likeable characters. Like us all, really.
I leave you with some of my favourite quotes and with a plea to go find this book. If you only read one of these quotes, read the last one and pass it on to any friend you have who is wanting to find a plus one (not all single friends want guidance, I know, but some do) because it is the most hopeful thing I’ve ever read on the quest of finding love.
On the fear of falling in love:
“I was unable to relish in it, the falling, because I was panicked about who would catch me.”
“Truth steeps like tea – the longer you wait, the stronger it tastes.”
On life (this one is so true!):
“Sometimes we know stuff before we know stuff.”
On finding your way:
“Life doesn’t have an instruction manual, or guide, or map, and we can only ever do our best.”
On not having a clue:
“I closed my eyes and tried to remind myself that the point of it all is to be unsure. That I could be both unsure and hopeful.”
And finally, the piece I think every unhappy single girl or guy should read:
“They’re on their way, your person. It might not be today, though – in fact it’s probably not today, or even tomorrow – and that’s exactly how it should be. You’re not with the person of your life because you are the person of your life. They are extra. It will happen when it happens. But it will happen.”