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StoReads: The “Untamed” revolution

“I looked hard at my faith, my friendships, my work, my sexuality, my entire life and asked: How much of this was my idea?” – Glennon Doyle, “Untamed”

In her latest memoir, “Untamed,” Glennon Doyle tells the story of how she dismantled her life to create a new life that was her idea. At the center of the book is the idea that we have all been caged and tamed by the ideals that society impresses upon us. For many women, these old patriarchal ideals demand that our worth be tied to our waist size, that we become martyrs when we become mothers and that we never acknowledge our strengths or raise our voices too loud. For men, often these ideals demand that they be anything but “feminine.” Doyle dares to argue that there is another way, a way that is more true, more beautiful and more wild, and she takes the reader on a journey following that vision. 

By no means does she claim to have it all figured out. However, by giving her readers a vulnerable and honest window into her own life story, Doyle shares insight into how she recognized her own taming and how she now fights everyday to undo it.

“Untamed” is also a love story. Doyle is unafraid to confess that she didn’t fall in love for the first time until she was 40 years old, at the same time that she had a thriving career as a “Christian mom blogger” and was married to the (unfaithful) father of her three children. That made it slightly difficult when, at a book conference, Abby Wambach – one of the greatest soccer players of all time – walked into the room, and Doyle’s whole being thought: “There she is.” The only problem was that she would have to risk the stability of her family and her career in order to pursue her truth. 

At first, she decided she would stay in her marriage and give up on the idea of true love. But then, it dawned on her, “I am staying in this marriage for my little girl. But would I want this marriage for my little girl?” So she left her husband. She and Wambach are now happily married, and have a beautiful “fixed” family that includes Doyle, her ex-husband, her three kids, and Wambach, their “bonus mom.”

At first, I thought it was odd to say that I deeply related to and was inspired by “Untamed.” I’ve never been married or divorced. I’m not a mom. But then I realized that it’s not silly to say that I relate to Doyle’s writing because she speaks to overcoming the ideals and institutions that permeate our entire culture, through all generations. And I needed to hear, whether as a reminder or for the first time, what Doyle dares to dream: “I want us to refuse to betray ourselves. Because what the world needs right now to evolve is to watch one woman at a time live her truest, most beautiful life without asking for permission or offering explanation.”

For anyone looking for their next quarantine read, I highly recommend “Untamed.” I hope it will revolutionize the way you think about and approach your life, your future and our society as a whole. It sure did for me.

lagare1@stolaf.edu