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Wiving: A Memoir of Loving Then Leaving the Patriarchy

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  96 ratings  ·  42 reviews
The Most Anticipated Memoirs of 2020, She Reads • Bay Area Authors to Read This Summer, 7X7

A literary memoir of one woman's journey from wife to warrior, in the vein of breakout hits like Cheryl Strayed's Wild and Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle

At thirty-six years old, Caitlin Myer is ready to start a family with her husband. She has left behind the restrictive co
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published July 28th 2020 by Arcade (first published July 7th 2020)
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Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2020
A beautiful, tough, and brave memoir. The kind of memoir that will inspire you to tell your own story.

I am blown away by Caitlin Myer’s lyrical, yet straightforward writing - the toughest moments in her life laid bare for the reader so honestly that sometimes it is painful to read. This book tackles all the beauty, pain and messiness involved with being a woman, amplified times ten or sometimes more like one hundred.

Myer grew up in a Mormon family in Utah. Her family was extremely traditional i
Lili  Marcus
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was hard to read and not because it's a bad book but because of what the author has shared in this book. I rarely read memoirs/biographies because I avoid dealing with raw emotion this genre usually has. Call me a coward or uncaring but my mental health comes first. If the book affects my mental health so much, then I won't read it.

But from time to time, I do read something from this genre. That's why I accepted an e-copy of this book from the publisher when it was offered to me. And thank
Jul 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, arcs
Review to follow.
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Originally published on my book blog,

Caitlin Myer explores family, identity and the role of women in her upcoming book Wiving: A Memoir of Loving then Leaving the Patriarchy. The story starts in Provo, Utah where she’s the youngest child in a medium-sized Mormon family. And her Art Professor dad holds it all together because Mom is sick in bed most days. That view of marriage and being a wife colors Myer’s life and this memoir.

Early in the story, Myer focuses on her mother’s
Infantina  Nivetha
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Writing this memoir must really have taken so much guts on the author's part. She is bold to narrate her story with precision and attention to detail. Nothing seems overexaggerated and underexaggerared. Her life story is painful (gave out a feeling of embarassment in me to read what should have been kept private / hidden) and overall, I am happy for her that she decided to share it with the world. Kudos to her. From her assaulters to lovers to ex- husband, she has written what it takes to live i ...more
Lauryn Roslyn
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is my first review written on goodreads. I usually submit a rating and move on to the next book on my list. But I felt this book needed a review to prepare fellow readers for the potential read.

This book was raw, unrestrained, and at times triggering. There were times I didn’t think I could finish, but I powered through and was glad I did. Myer had lived her story, I was merely reading it. Myer shared about both strengths and vulnerabilities we encounter as women. Her words led to both tea
I'm not sure I can write a very coherent review of this right now. Wiving was a painful, beautiful read, and it moved me deeply. I'll be sitting with Caitlin Myer's words for a long time.

I enjoy difficult books like this, where you feel you don't deserve the trust the author has given you by sharing the parts of their lives most people don't have the guts to acknowledge let alone share publicly. Caitlin's writing is so real and human and sad and scary and funny. I love people who dare to go this
Caitlyn Miller
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Caitlin Myer doesn't hold back in Wiving, not even a little. The result is a sweeping, vivid memoir that makes you feel like you were there as she grew into the resilient woman she is today, the one who seeks out her fears to prove she can handle anything.

But the best memoirs aren't just about the author's experiences; they provide a framework to explore larger issues. Here, Wiving does not disappoint. Myer helped me to interrogate my own beliefs about marriage, independence, and healing.

Laura Joakimson
When someone is so open and honest in their story it opens up space for others to tell the truth too. This memoir opens up that space for me. I want to think about it more and let it settle before writing more but this is a gorgeous but not easy read. It made me laugh and cry. It’s a unique story but also one that crossed over my own at several points.
Dora Okeyo
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am female and in reading this book, all the doubts, fears, pain, all the things I learned to lock away in the dark recess of my mind about this body were unearthed by Caitlin.
I don't know whether to hate that she spoke such truth or to applaud her...all I know is that I felt seen, heard and championed for by her story. This book is one that I hope I get to read a year from now as well.
Thank you Netgalley for the eARC.
Pamela Scott

I’d never heard of the author before but I loved the cover of this book and the premise sounded good so I decided to take a chance. I’m glad I did. I got completely lost in this book which is gripping and was hard to put down once I’d started. It’s a coming-of-age book of sorts full of heart-ache, adventure, love and a search for identity and a place in the world. I found out the author is also a poet which makes sense as the prose use in the book is beaut
Darcia Helle
As the book's title suggests, Caitlin Myer’s memoir is written from the perspective of someone whose primary life focus was learning to become and then becoming a wife. And not just an ordinary wife, but the exact right kind of wife based on the standards of her religious upbringing.

Myer gives us a poignant look at a life ruled by other people’s expectations. This is a tragic exploration of what happens when a woman is taught, from early childhood on, that her sole purpose is to bend to the will
Ani - Ani Reads
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-arc, memoir
Review to come
Ramona Mead
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This memoir is right up there with those by Mary Karr and Cheryl Strayed. It's incredibly personal, honest, and gritty. I was immediately drawn in by her writing style, and how well it fits with her bits of memories that are revealed. This is a memoir about religion and the way being raised under those expectations shaped the author. It's about the ways she both conceded and rebelled. It's also about mental illness and the effects felt by those close to the ill person. The author's story resonat ...more
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I want to talk about this book with every woman I know! First and foremost, Myer's prose is gorgeous. She's a poet and it shows. So many paragraphs I reread for their beauty. The story here is also gripping--it's a coming of age story fraught with peril, betrayal, adventure, and love. It also asks serious philosophical questions, like what it means to live in the world as a woman who has realized her purpose is bigger than making men happy. The voice is intimate as the reader brought along on th ...more
Melissa Sak
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully crafted story of mothers and daughters, religion, guilt, punishment, lovers and husbands, and reinventing oneself, pulled me in from the first chapter. The style of the tale, for me, was reminiscent of "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant. We bounce between the author as an adult, as she deals with incredibly difficult health issues, and as a young child and teenager. Having the opportunity to witness not only the physical but emotional growth of this woman was so intimate, yet so fo ...more
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An eye opener! Compelling, engrossing, beautifully, lyrically written--touches on so many topics, religion, feminism, mental health, family, growing up--I was greatly moved. Brava Caitlin!!
Olivia Castetter
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Note: I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley and am leaving this review voluntarily.
The first thing that caught my eye about Wiving by Caitlin Myer was the cover—full of color yet muted, the tones spoke to the desire for hope, however stunted that desire may be by circumstance. Next, I noticed the title. “Wiving?” I thought. “That’s unique. This has to be interesting.”
And it most certainly is.
As the author takes the reader on a painful, lonesome (but not altogether lonely), perplexi
J Earl
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wiving: A Memoir of Loving Then Leaving the Patriarchy by Caitlin Myer is a powerful memoir that speaks to the personal where it intersects with the institutional, whether the institution be religion, healthcare, or any of the other male-centric societal constructs.

The writing is personal and draws the reader in. I found myself not wanting to leave her side throughout the entire story. It was almost as if I felt I was offering support by not setting the book down while she was suffering or searc
Leslie Lindsay
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ravishingly bold and haunting memoir about growing up Mormon, 'wifely' expectations, mental illness, and sexual abuse.

I was immediately taken with this compassionately visceral and lyrical memoir by Caitlyn Myer. WIVING (Arcade Books/Skyhorse Publishing, July 2020) is so brave, so bold, all things laid bare account of the author's upbringing, but also abuse and personal sexuality.

Raised Utah in a traditional Mormon family, Caitlin Myer's life had an expected trajectory: she would attend church
Dec 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
This book is about one woman’s combat with a culture and her “escape” from religion at age twenty, only to find herself similarly entrapped in the gender conventions of the secular culture at large. It's about Caitlin's journey in finding what it means to be a woman and her journey of breaking free from patriarchy.

This book touches on how Caitlin was being brought up in Mormon society and how she was expecting to get married and have kids once she was born as a daughter. It was frustrating to re
Jennifer M.
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wiving is the second of three books I read at the same time that have a sexual abuse history in the story. All three of the books were quite heavy, but filled with importance. In Wiving, we learn that the author experienced this abuse from a church elder. Even if it may seems startling, it's not. It's typical. At least in my opinion. It's always the most religiously upheld people that cause most of the problems. And one of the main reasons, I do not like organized religion. Or Christianity.

But I
Jess Witkins
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am gutted. Caitlin Myer's memoir, Wiving, is unlike any other memoir I've read. It's a story known to many women: patriarchy, conservative religious upbringing, traditional gender roles, sexual assault and rape, marriage, family, physical health issues, and mental health. Still, the way Myer reveals her story is methodical, dreamlike at times - admitting her own likelihood that events are not as she as remembers and yet EXACTLY as she remembers, and the things she survives will gut you.

The bo
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-biography, arc
I was captured from the first page- this book is heartbreakingly beautiful.

With each poetic phrase, author Caitlin Myer details her story of growing up in and leaving the Mormon church, her struggle with the deeply prevalent patriarchy, the complexity of family, the devastation of multiple sexual assaults, and her constant battle to outrun mental illness. (CW: some sexual encounters, including sexual assaults, are described explicitly.)

Despite the weightiness of these topics, "Wiving" never felt
Amy Mullen
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Caitlin Myer tells her story of growing up, with a mom suffering from mental illness, in a patriarchal religious society with a brutal honesty that drew me into her story and kept me reading with interest and longing to see how she overcomes each of the challenges that she faced. She tells intimate details of her story with notice of the emotions at the time, but also with the lens of looking back at the experience with what she knows now. Watching her come to understand that she is not at fault ...more
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I started this book with some reluctance. From the description it wasn't clear if this was a true memoir--that is, a narrative built around actual incidents--or more of a meditation on feminism glossed over with personal anecdotes. Luckily, for me at least, it's the former.

At first the back-and-forth in time was jarring, especially at the beginning--why are we rewinding to childhood when the title is Wiving? (It becomes clear later.) Once the majority of the narrative switched to her growing up
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
(Trigger Warning: episodes of abuse, neglect, assault, rape and violence)

With marathon momentum Catlin Myer dances through time, she, her own troubadour, crafts an epic prose poem of her resistance and rebellion against patriarchal religion and culture. With WIVING Myer pushes the narrative and representation of the #metoo movement yet father into the foreground of consciousness. This book belongs to the cannon of truth-sayers. This book is a work of art. Art isn’t always beautiful, but there is
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, netgalley
Thank you to the author, Skyhorse Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the cover, which was what caught my eye, and the book - wow. This is a gripping, emotionally raw and utterly absorbing memoir of a young woman born into a place and family that on the one hand restricted her completely in terms of her role as a woman in Mormonism, and on the other hand gave her much too much freedom. As a child, with parents who were too caught up in their own struggles
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
'Wiving' is a searing, provocative account of one woman’s struggle to escape expectations, both those imposed by her Mormon upbringing and the even harsher ones she places on herself, which pursue her no matter how far she runs. “How much women do, how completely we have stripped ourselves down for love, for approval, for attention, that searchlight that we believe will hold back the dark of loneliness,” Caitlin Myer writes in this memoir. I read 'Wiving' with worry, horror, compassion, sadness, ...more
Hannah Symonds
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
After being asked to read and review this book I wasn’t too sure what to expect. There is a lot of issues that are in this story involving religion, mental health illness, trauma, relationships and sex. Even though there is a lot packed into this book it is set out well, it is quite hard hitting what Caitlin has had to go through I felt every emotion reading this book, I felt as though she must get a break soon but the strength and bravery of her made her who she is today and allowed us as reade ...more
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