[WestBowPress, 384 pages]
When someone thinks of a “broken heart,” they usually think of romantic heartbreak. It’s an experience that nearly everyone has had and to which nearly anyone can relate.
Selina Meade’s Life Lessons from a Broken Heart focuses on romantic heartbreak. It’s a self-help book written from Meade’s point of view as a heterosexual woman, with a strong faith in God, who’s looking for a life partner with whom to have a family. As such, the perspective is aimed at a specific audience that shares the same values, but there are some life lessons within the book that are wider-reaching, which keeps the author from isolating other readers.
The author’s heart is in the right place
When you encounter heartbreak, you may feel the need to reach out to friends or family, or maybe even seek professional help. One of the key things I learned is that isolating yourself is perhaps one of the most harmful things you can do; you shouldn’t be alone, because you aren’t alone.
Meade’s Life Lessons from a Broken Heart reminds the reader of this. She writes as if she’s directly speaking to the reader as a friend. The book isn’t organized in any particular way, and instead reads as conversational pieces. Short chapters that begin with a quote and end with a “Life Lesson” make for an easy and accessible read, and it’s clear that Meade’s heart is in the right place.
But we don’t learn enough about Meade
However, I would’ve liked to have learned more about Meade’s personal journey: What laid the foundation for her faith and her search for love and family? How did her priorities shift as she got older and gained more experience?
Despite the personal nature of the subject matter at hand, the reader doesn’t learn much about Meade’s family background, upbringing and career.
Despite the personal nature of the subject matter at hand, the reader doesn’t learn much about Meade’s family background, upbringing and career. From her biography, we learn that Meade has yet to realize her dream of having a family, but she doesn’t directly address this in the book.
As a reader who’s female and single, I’d personally appreciate hearing how she feels about this—specifically, whether she feels personal pressure or pressure from family to get married and have children of her own, and how she adjusts her expectations as she gets older.
Meade includes some related personal anecdotes, but they read more like vague callbacks to anonymous relationships or conversations. For example, in a chapter that talks about how women are attracted to the “bad boy” stereotype, she mentions that someone she was involved with did something that made her cringe, leading her to conclude that he was “definitely not the image of who I would want my children to call Daddy.”
Yet, Meade doesn’t say what he did or how she does envision the father of her children. This makes it difficult for the reader to relate to or even understand her experience.
Different perspectives may have helped
The book may also have benefited from including more points of view. In the chapter “Glorified Nanny,” Meade’s “traditional family” mindset is keenly felt. She remarks that a single father to children “desires a [mother] replacement so he can assume what he perceives as his natural position as the provider of the family.”
It would’ve been interesting to read about how a single father views dating, especially in this day and age, in which parental roles are often reverse stereotypes or are shared equally between parents. Furthermore, what about a single mother who dates? That would’ve also been an interesting, and maybe even essential, viewpoint to explore.
It’s also important to acknowledge that devastating and impactful heartbreak can result from causes other than romantic ones: when you get laid off from a job you’ve had for more than 20 years, when a parent leaves and never returns, when a loved one passes away, when a friend betrays your trust or when a natural disaster destroys your home.
Heartbreak can even occur when you lose your sense of self, whether it’s through addiction or mental illness, especially when you don’t even know how to begin helping yourself.
We have the power to change ourselves
One of the best life lessons that Meade offers, which can apply to any type of heartbreak, is that we have the power to change ourselves.
Meade shares that this book is a result of her own heartbreak. In the aftermath, she decided to focus on herself, cutting off things that weren’t helping her achieve her goals and dreams, and becoming more intentional about life.
She recognizes that we have the right to hurt, grieve and be angry, but that we shouldn’t wallow for too long. She explains that this is the time to be selfish and selfless: “Selfish in a positive way means you give to yourself; selfless means you aren’t so self-absorbed that you don’t think about others.”
The power to change lies in loving yourself, which just might be the key to living a happy and fulfilling life.