Updated: Sep 15, 2022
We all have a creative genius inside us. It’s an odd way to begin a book review, right?
Elizabeth Gilbert is a brilliant author, but she’s also one of the most genuine creative souls I’ve never crossed paths with in real life. And I’m sort of okay with that, only because she has a way of conveying such deep emotion, that reading and listening to her is like being in the same room, sharing a cup of coffee while discussing thoughts on life.
Back to that creative genius comment. As an author myself, I struggle mightily at times, digging deep to find that mythical well of inspiration and offering wishes to the equally fabled genie for just one more good idea. Elizabeth’s TED talk, “Your Elusive Creative Genius” is timeless and all-encompassing. Watch it. You will treasure those twenty minutes of your life for years to come. In that talk, Ms. Gilbert talks about fear, about how doubt can creep into your mind and convince you that your best work or accomplishments in life might be behind you. That was over a decade ago, and I’m here to confirm through “City of Girls” that Elizabeth Gilbert’s best work is front and center.
I lean on a quote from one of my favorite essayists, Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Vivian Morris, the lead character in “City of Girls”, epitomizes this quote inside her honest and eloquently shared story. I have read so many books that span decades, but this is the first one in a long time that stitches each individual piece together such that it weaves a complete tapestry. Each cloth fragment is a story on its own, but the big picture seen when the work of art is complete carries with it an entirely new and necessary perspective.
It doesn’t matter whether you are an author, an artist, a dancer, an engineer, a veteran, or any other identifier you can place on a human being. The fact of the matter is: you are you. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Share it. Believe that you can make a difference being exactly who you are and not what others want you to be, because you already have. Every single character in this book embodies these thoughts in one way or another, and the way it’s reaffirmed through so many different lenses makes this a story that has staying power in my mind, heart, and soul.
I realize that I haven’t necessarily shared a lot about the actual story, per se, but perhaps that says something important. When a book gets you thinking and feeling about everything “outside” the book, well maybe that’s when the influence of a story is most powerful.
In the end, this story shared with me a most important fact about life. It’s never too late to be who you are meant to be. And it’s also never too late to connect with others who have that same passion to do so. I’m a quirky observer of details at times, and I couldn’t help but notice that the acronym for the title of this book, “City of Girls” is cog.
And like the individual tooth on the rim of a wheel or gear, we can’t function effectively on our own unless we connect with those surrounding us. It’s an age-old dichotomy: stand up and out to always be yourself and connect with others who do the same. Therein lies a beautifully complex and serendipitous message that is as relevant and timeless as this book.
Dave’s Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️
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