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Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life

Review

Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life

Mommy blogger Christie Tate (aka Outlaw Mama) recounts her earlier years in her debut memoir, GROUP.

On the day that she is named top of her class in law school, Christie wants to die. Thoughts of self-harm have been floating in her head for some time. She can’t form a lasting romantic relationship or any type of personal connection. She can talk about football and the weather with her family, but nothing more substantial. She fills this void in her life by immersing herself in her work. She also struggles with bulimia and eats three carefully rationed, tasteless meals each day as a coping mechanism.

Then a friend from Christie’s bulimia support group suggests joining group therapy. At first, the thought of sharing her problems in a space where confidentiality is not guaranteed frightens her. Eventually, her desire to turn her life around wins over, and she reluctantly signs up for group therapy under Dr. Rosen.

"I absolutely adored this memoir, and I recommend it to anyone who appreciates a warm and beautiful story that is captivating, soul-baring and inspiring."

This eccentric doctor gives Christie unique assignments that push her out of her comfort zone. She is asked to reveal her secrets and bear the weight of others’, as they hold shame when kept individually. While this is supposed to be liberating, she is concerned about going against her mother, who believes that such problems should be dealt with internally, as showing weakness to outsiders is taboo.

Christie narrates her experience over multiple years and relationships. She learns to express her opinions, even if they clash with someone else’s, and becomes comfortable saying no, even when it means disappointing others. As she bares her soul to the group, she gradually becomes more assertive in using her voice. Dr. Rosen’s assignments liberate her, allowing her to cast off the shame she feels in her eating and sexual habits. But the path to progress is never linear. She experiences highs and lows, reaches rock bottom and claws her way up. All the while, she casts doubt on the efficacy of group therapy. Will she ever be fixed? What does that even look like?

Christie Tate has a particular talent for prose. I loved the metaphor of the scored heart, which was poetic and apt for the situation. Reading about her struggles and progress was extremely therapeutic; you will be engaged within the very first chapter. I thank Christie for being so brave to tell her story. Her desire to be a people pleaser and her hesitancy in showing vulnerability really spoke to me. All readers will be able to relate to Christie, even if they do not struggle with their mental health or deal with similar issues.

GROUP demonstrates the importance of having a community that unconditionally accepts and supports you. What really appealed to me was the elongated timeframe. Recovery is not a quick fix. While the journey has many obstacles, it is realistically slow and much more rewarding.

I absolutely adored this memoir, and I recommend it to anyone who appreciates a warm and beautiful story that is captivating, soul-baring and inspiring.

Reviewed by Alison Lee on October 29, 2020

Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life
by Christie Tate

  • Publication Date: October 27, 2020
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1982154616
  • ISBN-13: 9781982154615