Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give by Ada Calhoun
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"To hitch your rickety wagon to the flickering star of another fallible human being--what an insane thing to do. What a burden, and what a gift."
Ada Calhoun's frank, eye-opening, and deeply thought-provoking Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give truly sucked me in from the first page. I'm not a huge fan of books that give marriage advice because in reality, I've found them to usually be condescending in nature or too "prim and proper." Ada Calhoun shattered all of those ideas I had about marriage books with this blunt but real look at what marriage truly is all about.
Ada's writing style is engaging and exciting. She weaves her own anecdotes with advice from experts and experiences of her friends carefully together. In a way, each chapters is its own standalone story, but when you finish the book, all of the chapters weave seamlessly together into a quilt of knowledge about married life. I felt like Ada put into words so many things I feel as a married woman but can't quite express--or don't have the courage to. She is honest and raw in her revelations, letting the reader into her marriage from a unique vantage point and allowing us all to benefit from her wisdom and her mistakes.
I love that she never has a "know it all" attitude about marriage. She doesn't claim to be an absolute expert. Instead, she presents information and various perspectives, allowing the reader to digest it at his or her pace. I could connect with so many of the stories in the book and loved the humorous asides presented.
I also think Ada Calhoun approaches marriage from a courageous perspective. Few are willing to admit some of the difficult realities she does while also holding the stance that marriage is worth it. I love that she doesn't claim marriage is all rosy, but she also doesn't claim that marriage is worthless, horrible, or hopeless. She strikes the perfect balance, showing the reader that all marriages are a struggle, but are also worth it. She gives the reader permission to be imperfect while also inspiring the reader to work hard at marriage.
There are so many beautiful quotes in this book that made me reflect on my own relationship. I really liked the section on J.R. R. Tolkien and the phrase "companions in shipwreck not guiding stars." What a powerful statement and reminder; the book is filled with tons of valuable phrases like these.
Ada Calhoun presents her ideas in a skillfully crafted story that doesn't feel "preachy" or "overly academic." Instead, I felt like I was talking to a close but wise friend about love, marriage, and all of the things so many people are afraid to say.
Thank you, Ada Calhoun, for being brave enough to say the things about married life so many shy away from. Thank you for giving us permission to accept that we may never be the perfect wife, husband, or couple, but that is perfectly beautiful and okay in its own way.
I recommend this book for anyone who is married, has been married, or is considering marriage. I think this should be a wedding gift for every newly married couple because it is just that good, real, and important.
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