REVIEW: Help Me, Marianne Power

Friday, 22 March 2019

Marianne Power was a self-help junkie. For years she lined her bookshelves with dog-eared copies of definitive guide after definitive guide on how to live your best life. Yet one day she woke up to find that the life she dreamed of and the life she was living were not miles but continents apart. So she set out to make a change. Or, actually, to make every change. Marianne decided to finally find out if her elusive perfect life—the one without debt, anxiety, hangovers or Netflix marathons, the one where she healthily bounced around town with perfect teeth to meet the cashmere-sweater-wearing man of her dreams—lay in the pages of those books. So for a year she vowed to test a book a month, following its advice to the letter, taking the surest road she knew to a perfect Marianne. As her year-long plan turned into a demented roller coaster where everything she knew was turned upside down, she found herself confronted with a different question: Self-help can change your life, but is it for the better?

Quick question: has anyone actually read a self-help book since the turn of the millennium? No, I don’t mean Marie Kondo. I mean those ones that Bridget Jones devoured, sitting on the sofa knowing that she was going to continue to make the same bad decisions over and over, whilst gorging on too much ice cream.
… Do they still print them?
With this solitary, incredibly 90's image stuck in my head, even attempting to take this book seriously baffled my brain a little bit.
I think that is because, over the past decade or so, people have become far more aware of the concept of privilege. Which roughly translates to: “no I don’t want to read about all the problems a middle-class straight, white women with a good job has, no thank you”. It feels whiny, flat, tone-deaf. Marianne Power chases self-help like the world is falling apart and her life is in tatters, but the main source of her problems?
That she does not have a boyfriend and she watches too much Netflix.
I mean, so do I! But I am not going to write a bloody memoir all about it.
In a world where so much is in actual tatters, it feels very #whitefeminism, very #firstworldproblems (which is, honest to god, the most millennial I have ever sounded). And no, that does not mean that everything has to be serious and doom-and-gloom to be needed, but this just felt unbelievably shallow.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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