"Chick Lit" is a term we often use to describe breezy, female-centric fiction. While reading JoAnna Harris's book, YOU DIDN'T COMPLETE ME: When "The One" Turns Out To Be Just Someone, the idea occurred to me that maybe we should start expanding the term to include nonfiction. If ever a book screamed "Chick Lit" it's YOU DIDN'T COMPLETE ME.
JoAnna's missive to the lovelorn masses was born out of her own heartache. Two major breakups set the stage: Jack, college best friend, said he wanted to grow old with her but couldn't marry her because she wasn't pretty enough; Ross, fiancée, bailed out two months before their wedding and less than one week after she had left her life in Nashville to be with him in Boston. Ouch. Double ouch.
Of the day Ross calls it quits, she writes: "That night when he leaves he hugs me. It feels like hugging a stranger or an acquaintance that sorta creeps you out. Like dancing with the weird guy at the wedding because it's the wedding party dance and he's your wedding party counterpart. His arms are wrapped tightly around you and you can't escape without making a scene so you do your best to throw your head back, hoping to appear as if you're laughing but really you're trying to flee gracefully. I want to hug him and feel good. To feel like I once did. To feel safe and loved and together. Instead it feels wooden. Artificial. And I know it's over."
Joanna pairs such in-the-moment, heart-on-your-sleeve candor with humor and spot-on observations about navigating our own and society's expectations about love.
"When I was engaged it made me feel like a celebrity. Made me exciting to strangers. Made people sit up and take notice. Hey everybody, look at me! Somebody loves me! A boy thinks I'm pretty! I remember buying stationary at a card shop and the salesclerk oohing and aahing over my engagement ring and wanting to know all about my dress and the flowers and the cake and ... oh yeah, the guy. If I went in today, she would tell me my total and hand me a receipt."
JoAnna chronicles her romantic misadventures with a "just between us girls" sensibility, and just like one of your girlfriends, she can ramble a bit. And be inconsistent. And tell you things that are kinda embarrassing in the light of day. But you listen anyway because she's your friend, and if you're honest, she reminds you a bit of yourself, warts and all.
When all is said and done, JoAnna finds a wholeness in Christ that isn't cliché or trite, but is sufficient. If you've been unlucky in love, have a friend going through a painful breakup, or you just want to have a good gabfest (well, she's gabbing) about love, then I definitely recommend YOU DIDN'T COMPLETE ME.
Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel on December 8, 2004