Given Up for You: A Memoir

Erin O. White. Univ. of Wisconsin, $26.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-299-31820-8
White’s meandering memoir raises questions about finding a place inside Catholicism as a feminine lesbian mother, but fails to fully explore them. A persuasive and manipulative therapist encouraged White to experience Mass as a young adult, and she quickly felt a strong passion for belief and belonging. At the same time, she embarked on her first serious romantic relationship and soon abandoned organized religion. White continued to struggle with faith even after leaving the Church, a concern that only sporadically appears as the memoir progresses and White spends more time recounting the frustrations of early motherhood. Supported by her career-oriented lawyer wife, White sought out traditionally feminine things (wearing makeup, taking care of the home, bearing their two daughters and raising them as a full-time parent) and found them both rewarding and exhausting. Though the book is positioned as a religious memoir, White only sporadically writes about her faith after the introduction. Her best writing captures the tension between her attachment to old-fashioned femininity and her eagerness to crusade for LGBTQ rights, forcing her to consider her insecurities around her gender expression as well as her barely explored belief in the Christian god. Less successful is her portrayal of her marriage, which leans mostly on instances of irritation and failures to connect, but readers will sympathize with her hurt and confusion around her inability to directly confront her strong, lingering feelings for Catholicism. This is a heartfelt but poorly constructed book. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/26/2018
Release date: 03/01/2018
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