I read this for my thesis, which is on the topic of contemporary memoirs written by women. This is easily my favorite out of the stack of memoirs currently sitting on my desk. Elna Baker is a warm, insightful, and funny twentysomething trying to make it in New York. She’s also struggling to reconcile her Mormon faith with her desire for a twenty-first century dating life.
I won’t give you the full thesis treatment, but I will say this: Elna Baker knows who she is and she doesn’t want to compromise that for anyone else. Sure, she has moments of doubt — who doesn’t? — but she consistently bucks against the people in her life who ask her to sacrifice her sense of self for their sake. She struggles to accept the futility of a relationship with an atheist unwilling to accept the celibacy that comes with her Mormonism, but she also refuses to settle for a man simply because he shares her religion.
As someone who has gone through many significant, difficult changes in my romantic life over the last year, I have a deep respect and admiration for Baker. She is, in many ways the antithesis of Sex and the City, to which I could never relate. She wants the same things, in the end, but she manages to explore her identity without being a cliche. She also frankly addresses her self-image and her family relationships, as these both play an important role in the way she approaches relationships with men. It’s probably not for everyone, but Baker’s honest, insightful memoir truly struck a chord with me.