I feel it’s not just my responsibility, but my duty to respond to the negative reviews that have cropped up on Goodreads and elsewhere like sand in the desert. Many reviewers have mentioned EAT, PRAY, LOVE as being self-indulgent. I’m sorry but writing is always going to be self-indulgent, as it gives the writer the ability to work out his or her problems, demons, doubts, and fears. Beyond that, it gives the writer, who does it well, the opportunity to reach beyond friends and family and actually develop an audience and a following.
In the case of Ms.Gilbert, she’s not the only one who walked away from a troubled marriage, and she offers a sense of hope to the reader. Sure, it’s all about her, but it was written in the first person, and it is a memoir after all. Success brings with it a number of detractors, the way palmetto bugs have taken over Florida, and that’s fine. I’m sure she’s accepted her fate, along with the big, fat paycheck that goes along with it. But I’ve decided to celebrate her memoir for what it is, and if the reader simply focuses on that aspect, it’s a well-written read, a journey in self-discovery, and it provides the reader hope. And hope is a beautiful thing.
I tip my hat to Ms. Gilbert and her well-earned success. This fact alone tells me that her story was the right piece written at the right time, that tells me it was lucky, but there was also a connection established between writer and reader, as her individualistic journey is a story many can relate to, especially since our country has built itself around individualism. Though she didn’t necessarily set out to write this book, and was merely looking for a way to find herself again, she has accomplished both, and I might add rather admirably. I can’t think of too many people who would turn down the opportunity she was presented with. Most important of all, though, is that she came out a better, stronger, more rounded person on the other side, and I believe that’s one journey we should all strive for.