Months ago, my husband went to an entertainment industry event, where he received a copy of Maria Bello's Whatever...Love is Love: Questioning The Labels We Give Ourselves. As the bookworm in the family, the book was given to me, and added to my towering TBR pile.
Fast forward to Saturday, two weekends ago. My husband is in the kitchen and I hear a loud yelp. Uh oh. He had stabbed himself in the hand with a sharp knife. As a former caregiver, I've spent many, many hours in emergency rooms. I know the drill. Blood was gushing, so I didn't have time to consider my book options. Whatever...Love is Love was the first book to catch my eye, so I grabbed it, and off we went to the ER.
Half a book, four hours, and one stitch ( sans anesthesia, my husband's tough) later, we headed home.
PLOT- Maria Bello examines the various labels that are given to us by society, others, and even ourselves.
LIKE- Prior to reading Whatever...Love is Love, I didn't know much about Maria Bello. I knew that she is an actress, but I could only remember seeing her in Coyote Ugly. I had not read her New York Times article for the Modern Love column, which formed the title for this book. In what would become one of the top ten most popular Modern Love articles, Bello writes about coming-out to her twelve year old son, Jackson, and his response of, "Whatever...Love is Love". Taking from his response, Bello uses her memoir to examine other labels in her life.
The best aspect of Bello's writing, is her candid, frank approach to difficult topics. She doesn't shy away from discussing her father's abuse and alcoholism, or her mother's cancer diagnosis. Bello discusses her own relationships, her infidelity and rejections. She is imperfect and relatable. She doesn't try to have all of the answers and is okay with her flaws. She owns her actions.
A memorable story is one regarding Bello's gold shoes. Looking for symbolism and "signs" has been a Bello family trait and following tradition, she found a gold high heel when she was down and out as a struggling actress in New York. It was a perfect fit and she kept the heel for many years. When her career took off, she left the shoe and letter outside of a hotel in NY. Her cab driver told her that the act of letting go of the shoe, would come back to her. Since leaving the heel, she has had encounters with other gold shoes found in improbable places, including a gold ballet shoe and gold sneakers. I love the idea of finding a lucky symbol and then setting it free for another person to find. Luck multiplies.
DISLIKE- Overall, I enjoyed Bello's writing and hearing her take on life. This is not the type of book that I would have likely picked on my own, so maybe like the gold heel, it was serendipitous that it found its way to my TBR pile. The only minor complaint, is occasionally Bello's tone felt a little precious. I think that she was just enthusiastic about things and people that she loves, but it was a touch overbearing. She has a very open heart.
RECOMMEND- Yes. Ultimately, my take-away from Whatever...Love is Love, was a feeling of reflection and optimism. I think most readers would find portions (if not all) of Bello's memoir to be relatable to their own lives, including their fears, concerns, and the questions that they ask of themselves.