Ashley E's Reviews > Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage

Open by Jenny Block
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's review
Mar 13, 2012

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bookshelves: first-reads
Read on March 30, 2012 , read count: 1

First, let me start off this review with a disclaimer: I am a young, heterosexual female, a virgin, and could be happily described as a "romantic". Take what preconceptions you will from this and go ahead and run with them.

I signed up for this book on First Reads and forgot about, then was greatly surprised when I opened my inbox and discovered I had won. I like to think of myself as an open-minded person, and while I personally believe in monogamy, I can see how an open marriage could be right for some people. I typically like fiction, but this book had sounded interesting and I was curious, so I was determined to give it a fair try. Well, I did. And here's what I think.

I found the memoirs aspect of this book fascinating. Seeing Jenny (and Christopher) grow and develop their relationship into what it is today was an intriguing process, not without hurts, but still with ultimate purpose. Other parts of the book felt... "preachy".

The author is a feminist, and sometimes that comes across too strongly in her descriptions of why sexual freedom is so important. Not that I don't agree with that in general; it's just that some of her points could be made about men just as fairly. The main reason I find myself disliking feminist attitudes in general is that idea exactly. It seems as if sometimes, they point at a problem and say, "It's because she's a woman," without stopping to consider if a man in that situation might have the same or a similar problem. But I digress.

I found myself frustrated while reading this book when it came to Block's views on monogamy. Though she repeatedly says that she thinks it can work for some couples, it doesn't really come across as if she believes it. She makes the point that monogamy is not natural to human (or more accurately, I think, animal) biology. We aren't meant to be monogamous. Though I don't think the author intended this, to me this sounds high-handed of her. Personally I don't think I could function happily in any kind of relationship other than a monogamous one. Partially, yes, this has to do with how I was raised (societal reasons), but also with my personality, attitude toward casual physical touch, and my personal beliefs, which over the last few years have been tried and developed. As someone who believes in monogamy, personally, many of her arguments for open marriage seemed to imply that a "closed" traditional marriage wasn't really viable, and couldn't be open in the sense of honest communication and trust. I was left feeling a little vilified.

For someone interested in learning more about how an open marriage could potentially work for them, and understanding some of the problems they might face, as well as ideas for dealing with them, I think this would be a wonderful book. But it just wasn't for me. I would've enjoyed it a lot more without the philosophy of open vs. traditional marriages that she incorporated.

[I received this book for free through First Reads and was not required to write a positive or any other type of review. All opinions stated herein are solely my own.]
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