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
Your Local Book Store, Amazon
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.
[email protected] says
Great review! This is on my TBR. Nonfiction that reads like fiction is a treat.
Thank you! I’ve figured it out it’s the only kind of nonfiction I can read.
Susie | Novel Visits says
Wow, a five star nonfiction! That’s impressive. I started listening to this book in the spring and returned it after a short time. I felt like i just couldn’t listen to problems for 10 or 12 hours. However, I’ve seen so many people that I trust who have loved it, that I’m reconsidering. Maybe this is one that would work better in print? I may give it another try during Nonfiction November.
Did it have multiple narrators? That might get to be a bit much.
Yes, it’s about 4 patients with problems, but it’s interspersed with her life as well. It didn’t bother me- it was like reading about any character in most of the fiction I read.
I also enjoyed this one, but it suffered a bit from some hype I’d read. If you enjoyed this, give GOOD MORNING, MONSTER a try and let me know what you think of that one. I liked it even more. I’m so glad people are writing about talk therapy; hoping it will help remove some of the stigma and encourage people to try.
Just added to my TBR. And yes to talk therapy.
This was already on my list, but you’ve made me even more excited to read it!
It was the right book at the right time for me! I hope you enjoy it.
Kate W says
Coincidently I started reading this today. I am a therapist and, as Gottlieb points out therapists go to therapists (because we know the importance of talking!). I’m only a few chapters in but already the highlighter has been out multiple times.
How fascinating! I can’t wait to read your review- your perspective will be so interesting. I don’t buy many books, but this is one I want to own because I can see going back to repeatedly. She resonates.
I thought you were going to say this one Is a novel. She’s able to talk about her patients? I guess she’s able to give them other names. It seems a helpful / interesting kind of read.
I’m sure they’re pseudonyms. Also, she may have gotten their permission. Either way, it is beautifully and respectfully done and makes from some of the best reading I had this summer.