My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: "That's when I saw him--the cowboy--across the smoky room."
I'll never forget that night. It was like a romance novel, an old Broadway musical, and a John Wayne western rolled into one. Out for a quick drink with friends, I wasn't looking to meet anyone, let alone a tall, rugged cowboy who lived on a cattle ranch miles away from my cultured, corporate hometown. But before I knew it, I'd been struck with a lightning bolt . . . and I was completely powerless to stop it.
Read along as I recount the rip-roaring details of my unlikely romance with a chaps-wearing cowboy, from the early days of our courtship (complete with cows, horses, prairie fire, and passion) all the way through the first year of our marriage, which would be filled with more challenge and strife--and manure--than I ever could have expected.
This isn't just my love story; it's a universal tale of passion, romance, and all-encompassing love that sweeps us off our feet.
It's the story of a cowboy.
And the girl who fell in love with them.
My take: Ree writes her book in the same voice she uses on her blog. She talks to the reader like a friend. This is simply her history according to her. This is striking to me because I respected the way she did not air others dirty laundry or assign feelings or interpretations to others they did not specifically share. Her parents' marriage falls apart and she is angry at her mother for leaving it at the same time, she doesn't share the story that isn't hers to tell. I respected that.
Ree is a gifted writer. She objectively articulates her experiences then jumps into her head in that time period and shares the internal struggles she had. She doesn't justify those struggles, they just are. I found that courageous.
Although Ree's experience of becoming a ranch wife is unique, her need to redefine herself in a very short amount of time is universal. I related very well to Ree's experiences. From leaving a place so comfortable to a place of limbo before launching off to the next Big Thing then making a choice to stick around and find out what this little romance might turn into. The moment when Ree realizes that rest of her life can't be wrapped up in roses and romance and that she has to stick it out, even through the hard things was revelatory. They honeymoon period of the courtship ends quickly after a beautiful wedding.
What I uncomfortably enjoyed was the way Ree had to reinvent herself over and over again like any other woman but she provided so much honesty that I remembered my own struggles in painful detail.
From independent, beautiful, sexy woman to wife.
From abstaining to a sexual woman.
And then there's the dignity. Why do we delude ourselves as women, believing we can keep our dignity? That we will be the sexiest woman that our husbands will always find appealing while we puke our guts out with morning sickness, can barely get up to take a shower, grow big and pregnant, losing all semblance of womanly curves as our belly swells. The ultimate indignity is birth itself. She discusses the strong possibility that, while bearing down, a woman might poop. There is no dignity.
That is the reason I found the book so appealing. Ree honestly and openly, without being crass, addresses all of the transitions, both external and internal. In a short amount of time "I" becomes "we" and independence becomes interdependence and "I need you." Marlboro Man saw his wife in all of her skins. He loves her anyway. And she loves him. And somehow, throughout all their differences and shedding of superficial, they make a life together.