If you didn’t know this already, Hopscotch the Globe has an official book club! Each month, avid reader and fellow traveller Trish McNeill will be announcing a travel inspired novel chosen by you to read and review. We will be posting updates on Twitter and Facebook for you to follow along and discuss the novel as we all read through it together. Also, if you have a book you’d like to be the HTG book of the month, let us know by reaching out on social media or comment below. We look forward to having you part of the book club! Last month, we read and reviewed The Camino, this month we read What I was Doing While You Were Breeding.
** Spoiler alert! I do talk about the ending of the book in this review.
Finally, a review that isn’t full of complaints and a book that I didn’t throw across the room!
It’s difficult for me to write this review without making it all about me, so bear with me while I make this all about me.
I took this book personally.
I happened to read “What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman” at the exact moment in my life that I needed it. At 27, I had recently settled in my first ‘big girl apartment’, started calling writing and traveling a career instead of a hobby, and was feeling pretty damn good about myself. I even had a boyfriend who was in England and whom I was planning to visit during my upcoming 4-month trip in Europe.
Not surprisingly, plans change; especially when plans involve relationships and/or travel. I wanted solo travel. I wanted a relationship. I wanted freedom. I wanted to follow through on my commitment. Ultimately, I chose to take my own path.
“Everyone I knew, no matter what they chose, was at least a little in mourning for that other thing.” ― Kristin Newman”
If you’re a woman who wants to travel, doesn’t mind being alone, has a career that takes you places, enjoys meeting new people, has different groups of friends, and has developed a meaningful relationship, not only with those around you, but with yourself… you might have been told that you’re selfish.
You only care about yourself, and your own happiness. Someday you’re going to realize how lonely you are and how you’ll regret the fact that you’re happy and able to make decisions and stand up for yourself because if you don’t, who will?
Oops. Getting personal.
This brings me to the first of many quotes from Newman that caused me to put the book down and happy cry.
“I love that I am but one of millions of single girls hitting the road by themselves these days. A hateful little ex-boyfriend once said that a houseful of cats used to be the sign of a terminally single woman, but now it’s a house full of souvenirs acquired on foreign adventures. He said it derogatorily: Look at all of this tragic overcompensating in the form of tribal masks and rain sticks. But I say that plane tickets replacing cats might be the best evidence of women’s progress as a gender. I’m damn proud of us.” ― Kristin Newman
Newman helped me navigate my way through one of the most major self-discoveries I’ve experienced. I’m not selfish or lonely; I’m comfortable in saying that I’m happy being who I am, as I am, and I think that scares some people.
As I struggled through the changing dynamics of my own relationship, my heart and mind battled out what I was ‘supposed’ to do VS what I felt was ‘right’, my chin was held up by the solidarity found in the pages of Newman’s own self discovery.
Having a change of heart in a relationship is normal, but that doesn’t make it easy.
How can I hurt someone when I still care? How can I be honest about what I need and want without taking away from someone else? How can I show that I’m not a selfish liar when the way I felt two months ago was completely different than the way I feel now? How do I know I’m not lying to myself? Do I make a clean break or try, try again?
All of my questions, and more, were explored in the pages of this book.
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding takes the reader through the quirky and refreshingly honest tales of Kristin Newman’s work, travel, love life and leaves you wanting to be her best friend.
Although this memoir focuses on the ups and downs of relationships and the inner torture of never being enough (excuse me while I cry again), it also contains a wealth of information about travel locations and is sure to have you adding destinations to your bucket list from almost every appropriately named chapter.
I was slightly disappointed when Newman found love with a man who shared a name with my most recent ex-boyfriend (MooMoo! MOOMOO?).
That being said, knowing that Newman was happy, not because she found a man, but because she found THE man was satisfying. I didn’t get the “and then I got my Prince Charming, as you all should do, and lived happily ever after” vibe from it. I got the “do-what-makes-you-happy-no-matter-where-your-happiness-comes-from” vibe.
I hugged the book and sobbed for a good five minutes. Sobbed. The kind of sob that makes your heart and stomach feel like they’re merging together, and your brain swells and shrinks with your lungs through every shudder.
I’m a wreck.
Now excuse me while I prepare for six more weeks of travel… all by myself.