Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: April 2, 2019
Genres: Book Clubs, Essays, Health, Memoir, Non-fiction
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Sometimes a book comes my way not from reviews or recommendations, but from simple proximity—I see it at the library and decide to read it. Very often these are some of my favorite books. This is the case with Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. It’s her account of being a therapist and what happens when she needs a therapist herself.
Gottlieb lives in L.A., is single, with an 8-year-old son. She was in a relationship with plans for marriage when her boyfriend blindsided her (after 2 years of dating) by telling her he didn’t want to help raise a child. What?! She’s devastated and while she’s able to maintain her own practice she knows she’s not in a healthy headspace. She begins therapy with a man she calls Wendall. She also allows the reader into her sessions with four patients: John, a very successful TV writer/producer; Julie, a professor and newlywed diagnosed with an untreatable cancer; Charlotte, a young woman who drinks a lot but doesn’t see it as a problem; and Rita, a 69-year-old woman who’s decided to kill herself when she turns 70.
The chapters in Maybe You Should Talk to Someone move between Gottlieb’s life story and how she came to be a therapist, her current situation, and the lives of her patients as they present themselves to her. John’s world is full of idiots. He lives at a low simmer of rage, wanting only to vent. Rita’s has no interest in life despite being an accomplished artist. Julie is trying to come to terms with the finality of a death sentence, but with no idea when it will happen. Each of these patients reflects Gottlieb herself, whether in their actions, their past, or how they navigate therapy. This, plus, her own perspective on patients, life, and psychology, makes for deeply insightful reading.
We may want others’ forgiveness, but that comes from a place of self-gratification; we are asking forgiveness of others to avoid the harder work of forgiving ourselves.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone confirms what I need in nonfiction. It reads like fiction. In fact, I set aside all my other reading to focus on it because Gottlieb and her patients were so fascinating I wasn’t interested in anything else. And by fascinating I don’t mean salacious or shocking. I mean real. The kind of lives, motivations, and feelings we all have, but seen through the lens of a professional. And then that professional, in turn, reveals herself in her sessions.
Gottlieb writes Maybe You Should Talk to Someone with compassion. She is the kind of therapist everyone deserves—smart, challenging, but caring. You don’t need to have been in therapy, believe in therapy, or need therapy to read this book. It encompasses so many of life’s aspects—parenthood, love, forgiveness, regret, marriage, new adulthood, denial—that it’s impossible not to relate. It’s so good I’m ready to read it again.