Sunday, July 05, 2009

Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story

As part of my 2009 goal “Getting my Ducks in a Row,” I’ve been reading quite a few memoirs in search of inspiration to continue moving forward with those baby steps. In doing so, I’ve come to the conclusion Sarah Statz Cords had a valid point when she wrote on her blog Citizen Reader:

For a long time, I wasn't up to reading memoirs. They're almost like fiction for me in that there's so many of them available; I'm bound not to like the majority of them.

I was looking forward to Isabel Gillies book Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story; not all change or reinvention is the result of our own choice i.e. divorce, job loss, or loss of a loved one. In Gillies case, her life is turned upside down after her husband develops a crush on a fellow teacher and announces he is done with their marriage.

I first heard of this book on Gretchen Rubin’s blog The Happiness Project when she interviewed the author, Isabel Gillies. Isabel has done some soul searching on happiness and gave an inspiring somewhat introspective interview. I love this line:

"I think what one may want to achieve is not so much happiness but peace?"

The problem with the book is what the title states, "Happens Every Day" there just isn’t anything new here; Isabel meets boy, gets married, has two kids, relocates for his career, he has an affair, they break up. The story would make a great "Lifetime" movie complete with the requisite box of Kleenex.

I was hoping for more introspection from Gillies including what inspired her to move on after her marriage ended and the steps she took to rebuild her life. Unfortunately, she had given the major points of her introspection in the interview she gave Gretchen which I had previously read.

She did, however, offer two good pieces of advice for couples splitting up:

1. The first step for moving on is to get a really good lawyer.

2. My lawyer from Cleveland gave me a good piece of advice. He said we should come up with a separation agreement fast. If you are close to the marriage you remember what the good parts felt like. In the beginning you both will want to treat each other well, or at least fairly. The farther you get from the marriage, the more lawyers involved, the more he turns into an asshole he never really was before and she turns into an incredible bitch she wasn’t before. Don’t let lawyers talk for you because everyone will lose. Everyone losses anyway in a divorce. Both sides always have to give a little bit more than they want and lose a little bit more than they want. There are no winners.

Enough Said.


  1. Hi Savvy!
    This memoir was a total case in point for how I feel about memoirs. It looked so good, and it got such great reviews; I had such high hopes for it. And then I tried to read it and was just completely bored. And sometimes confused. Did it strike you that Gillies could have used a really good editor? I thought even the structure of the book was weird. I still like her, though; I think she's a good actress.

    Thanks for pulling out the most pertinent parts of the book. My husband works in family law and it's shocking how many couples (and couples who are often already really fighting) think they can do their divorces themselves. It's just not a good idea. Sometimes you need an advocate, and when you're going through a divorce is when of those times.

  2. Yes, I too noticed she could have used a good editor. I've never seen her work as an actress, but will watch for her in Law and Order reruns.

  3. A really good pair of memoirs are those from Beverly Cleary, author of the children's book series, Ramona The Brave. Just amazing writing, and a tale of a bright woman making a career for herself from creative work. You'll love them. The first is called A Girl from Yamhill.

  4. Heidi,
    Thanks for the recommendation. I just looked them up, and both sound good. Clearly’s second book is called, "My own Two Feet".