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Enough: Notes from a Woman Who Has Finally Found It

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For women everywhere, a collection of fierce and often funny personal essays on finding enough, from writer Shauna M. Ahern, of Gluten-Free Girl fame. Like so many American women, Shauna M. Ahern spent decades feeling not good enough about her body, about money, and about her worth in this culture. For a decade, with the help of her husband, she ran a successful food blog, For women everywhere, a collection of fierce and often funny personal essays on finding enough, from writer Shauna M. Ahern, of Gluten-Free Girl fame. Like so many American women, Shauna M. Ahern spent decades feeling not good enough about her body, about money, and about her worth in this culture. For a decade, with the help of her husband, she ran a successful food blog, wrote award-winning cookbooks, and raised two children. In the midst of this, at age 48, she suffered a mini-stroke. Tests revealed she would recover fully, but when her doctor impressed upon her that emotional stress can cause physical damage, she dove deep inside herself to understand and let go of a lifetime of damaging patterns of thought. With candor and humor, Ahern traces the arc of her life in essays, starting with the feeling of "not good enough" which was sown in a traumatic childhood and dogged her well into adulthood. She writes about finding her rage, which led her to find her enduring motto: enough pretending. And she chronicles how these phases have opened the door to living more joyfully today with mostly enough: friends, family, and her community. Readers will be moved by Ahern's brave stories. They will also find themselves in these essays, since we all have to find our own definition of enough.


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For women everywhere, a collection of fierce and often funny personal essays on finding enough, from writer Shauna M. Ahern, of Gluten-Free Girl fame. Like so many American women, Shauna M. Ahern spent decades feeling not good enough about her body, about money, and about her worth in this culture. For a decade, with the help of her husband, she ran a successful food blog, For women everywhere, a collection of fierce and often funny personal essays on finding enough, from writer Shauna M. Ahern, of Gluten-Free Girl fame. Like so many American women, Shauna M. Ahern spent decades feeling not good enough about her body, about money, and about her worth in this culture. For a decade, with the help of her husband, she ran a successful food blog, wrote award-winning cookbooks, and raised two children. In the midst of this, at age 48, she suffered a mini-stroke. Tests revealed she would recover fully, but when her doctor impressed upon her that emotional stress can cause physical damage, she dove deep inside herself to understand and let go of a lifetime of damaging patterns of thought. With candor and humor, Ahern traces the arc of her life in essays, starting with the feeling of "not good enough" which was sown in a traumatic childhood and dogged her well into adulthood. She writes about finding her rage, which led her to find her enduring motto: enough pretending. And she chronicles how these phases have opened the door to living more joyfully today with mostly enough: friends, family, and her community. Readers will be moved by Ahern's brave stories. They will also find themselves in these essays, since we all have to find our own definition of enough.

30 review for Enough: Notes from a Woman Who Has Finally Found It

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heather F

    Ever wonder what happens when a teenage girl doesn't outgrow her "not like other girls!" phase? You get this book. Ahern comes across as petty, misogynistic, and self-important in this painful, bratty memoir.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Poorly written, annoying, and pretentious.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Took me a bit to get into this because someone story telling in a self help kind of way isn’t my kind of book ! Her story was sad growing up and her child skull issues frightening ! She went through a lot and came out okay at the end ! The writing was good but as I said I’m not a fan of this book at times I caught myself falling asleep ! This book wasn’t for me !

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    A good bit of the reason I wanted to read this book is that I had read fellow food writer Ahern’s earlier memoir/self-help book, Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too ten years ago and in it, she hints about her childhood in a way that made me think it was less than rosy but didn't really get into it. I am a memoir lover (I’ve read over 35 this year alone) so I picked it up right away wanting to know more. She certainly does flesh out her childhood in this A good bit of the reason I wanted to read this book is that I had read fellow food writer Ahern’s earlier memoir/self-help book, Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too ten years ago and in it, she hints about her childhood in a way that made me think it was less than rosy but didn't really get into it. I am a memoir lover (I’ve read over 35 this year alone) so I picked it up right away wanting to know more. She certainly does flesh out her childhood in this memoir but unfortunately, it is in a clunky way that raises more questions than answers. Some (most) of her stories just don’t sound quite right. For example, we are to believe that she had a gym teacher in the 1970s who insists that the sole activities the class can do for the entire year are jump rope for girls and baseball for boys. This is solved by young Shauna marching into her principal’s office and reciting the Title IX ruling. Obviously, children’s memories can be faulty but this (and many other) stories of her elementary school life are so implausible as to be a bit ridiculous. Why include them? Any adult knows these stories don’t ring true at all. Why didn’t she ask her mother (who is still living, as is her father) about these times? Or think critically about them and realize that at age 6 it may have seemed like it she taught reading while the teacher took a break but that it was more likely that the children took turns reading while the teacher sat in the back of the room? She tells stories about how unpopular, unsocialized and friendless she was but then reveals that she started a Beatles club (in the 1980s!) that had nearly 90 members and slumber parties and even formed a band with her brother and her friends. She is even friends with at least one of these women today. I think she still suffers from what I think of as “missing out syndrome” where a child thinks everyone is having fun without them when really they are reading a book and going to bed at 8 pm as well. The stories of her college years and young adulthood similarly sound like exaggerations for effect. Her story about how she became inspired to write this book sounds off to me too–she has a “mini-stroke”/TIA yet her doctor says she is in peak shape in every way physically with great blood pressure and cholesterol levels (then later in the book she says she lowered her blood pressure and cholesterol quite substantially after the TIA– so which is it?) and that she should really be looking into other areas of her life for ways she can improve. He asks her--What’s keeping from her from sleeping soundly? Does she have stress she can alleviate? Then he asks “Where in your life are you not feeling good enough?” which in the setting–a doctor’s office after a TIA–clearly comes across as the doctor asking her how she can improve her physical health. Most people would probably answer “I could exercise more to reduce stress, increase my cardiac health and help my sleep” but Ahern sees it as a call to examine why she has never felt like “enough” in her personal life. Either she grossly misinterpreted her doctor's question or she is fabricating a colorful backstory for this latest memoir. The essay about her failed gluten-free flour business is really appalling. She freely admits to doing little research before starting a Kickstarter campaign that nets her $92,000. She claims that no one told her that you would spend all that money on thank you rewards. This is obviously not true because she set the awards up herself before the campaign went live and in no way did they equal over $92k. She talks about google being her best friend and how she spends her time looking up things like shipping, how to set up a business account, trademarking, --- all after she accepts the Kickstarter money. Some error apparently goes unnoticed for a long time (one can only assume because she has zero clue what she is doing) which results in her not collecting shipping money from the orders and she decides to shut down the business and that she isn’t made for running a business. That’s incredibly evident but a conclusion she could have reached by actually researching anything about the flour business before starting it and taking $92K of other people’s money. It's really gross and she even mentions that's it is easy to start a business if you have a trust fund but come on, she had $92K+ no strings attached start up money from complete strangers, was broke so didn't invest any of her own money and took out zero business loans--not a trust fund but not that far off either. Her money woes are evident again in the essay about her brief stint working in a grocery store bakery. I’m glad she accepted that she needed to take a regular job to pay the bills and get insurance for her children but the whole essay smacks of poverty tourism. She ends it by saying she left the store for a better-paying gig (then another when that one ended) and that her husband only works a few days a week “for the community” vs needing the money. It really came across as gross and condescending to people who actually work in grocery stores for more than just a fill-gap lark. She blames her mother for virtually everything that went wrong in her life from her protracted virginity to where she went to college but never places any blame on her father who had at least one affair, and did things like dragging his agoraphobic wife to live in a stranger's house in England and then let her keep the children out of school for company when he wouldn't let her go home to California. Her parents are still together so he was there her entire childhood--he even coached her team. I can see how this was rough on her as a child but as an adult, you'd think she'd have a more nuanced view of the situation. She does not. She has some real issues with women, feminity and gender roles. Most of her thinking seems stuck in a past that even she didn’t live in. The popular girls are always blonde, girls are catty, girls wear dresses instead of practical overalls, women are supposed to be demure, women don’t cuss. The list goes on and on. Ahern is aggressively “not like other girls” in a way that is odd for a 50+-year-old woman. There is no nuance in her world. She thinks being “nice” is fake and refuses to fake it anymore but her examples of being nice–holding doors open, apologizing when you hit someone with a shopping cart– seem to be just common courtesy. Do you need to apologize for sitting in an open seat or being first in line? No. But if you bang into someone at the grocery store, an acknowledgment and a brief “sorry” is just a part of living in a society. She doesn’t seem to be able to recognize the difference between basic manners and women undermining themselves. She then takes it to a bizarre extreme and says being “nice” is also ignoring the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust. I don’t even know where to begin with that. Then she makes a strange pivot to drag queens and being fierce that is garbled, a bit offensive and tone-deaf. It’s a puzzling leap. She flat out says most people are pretending to be happy and satisfied. I think she is neither but surely many are? She comes across as a less articulate Holden Caulfield at middle age. She seems completely unable to realize what is universal (puberty is rough on everyone) and what isn’t (everyone is faking their lives according to Ahern which simply isn’t true) and this colors the bulk of the book. Most of her stories are very, very particular to her but then she makes these attempts to connect it to the rest of the world so we can find our “enough” but it never quite works. The whole book vacillates between trying to be on the self-help spectrum and being a regular memoir in essay form but does neither terribly well. Her daughter’s health issues and her husband’s surprise admission that he drinks basically 24 hrs a day every day and has for decades a few days before she gives birth seem like they would have been more of a source of stress than her childhood but she links even her husband’s issues back to her parents–they didn’t drink so she didn’t know what was normal. It seems very stunted and unexplored. I don’t think this book really holds up to the title at all. Ahern comes across as a deeply unhappy woman to this day. I do not believe she found “enough”. I do not recommend this ultimately very frustrating book to anyone looking for inspiration or hope. I find it strange and maddening that in a book about finding your "enough", truthtelling and honest reflection she seems to have made up or exaggerated so many of her examples in order to make her murky point. However, it is a very short book. The print is large and some “essays” are just lists of her thoughts about various body parts. If you were a huge fan of her blog or her current Instagram account and you want to know more about her, it may be worth checking out. Be forewarned it is not a funny or joyful book. There is no call to action to find “enough” in your own life or tips on how to accomplish this. I get into a few more details about this book in my review on my book review blog from which parts of this review are taken.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    As a fan of GFG recipes, this is a chance to learn more about Shauna and see her peel back the happy facade a bit (especially from earlier books and blog posts). It is interesting to see how her childhood struggles impacted her as a young adult and still today. Unfortunately, she seems very self-involved. There is a strong sense that she is the first person to struggle with much of what she discusses in this book - both with her family and in her personal challenges. There are also multiple As a fan of GFG recipes, this is a chance to learn more about Shauna and see her peel back the happy facade a bit (especially from earlier books and blog posts). It is interesting to see how her childhood struggles impacted her as a young adult and still today. Unfortunately, she seems very self-involved. There is a strong sense that she is the first person to struggle with much of what she discusses in this book - both with her family and in her personal challenges. There are also multiple times where she glosses over her responsibility in a situation and seems to blame her spot on those around her or on society as a whole. I would understand if this perspective was just in her early years, but it continues throughout the book and into her recent experiences. I like Shauna's descriptive writing, but as others have mentioned, this book jumped around unneccessarily. Overall, I finished wondering if this book would've been published if she hadn't already been a published author.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    I've followed Ahern's writing since her Gluten-Free Girl days and watched her grow into a writer with a clear, lucid, heart-filled, honest voice. I—along with countless others—am a serious fan of the new Shauna, who shares candid, messy, sometimes transcendent moments from her life as a mom, wife, writer, cook, and community member on Vachon Island, WA, along with social commentary from a feminist perspective. Go, Shauna! So I was shocked when I saw very poor early reviews on Goodreads for this I've followed Ahern's writing since her Gluten-Free Girl days and watched her grow into a writer with a clear, lucid, heart-filled, honest voice. I—along with countless others—am a serious fan of the new Shauna, who shares candid, messy, sometimes transcendent moments from her life as a mom, wife, writer, cook, and community member on Vachon Island, WA, along with social commentary from a feminist perspective. Go, Shauna! So I was shocked when I saw very poor early reviews on Goodreads for this new memoir and I wondered how on earth that could be. (The Washington Posthas since published a very positive review.) Ok, I've just finished it and I have a theory. This book...is so brave. The whole first section shares the traumatic pain she experienced through childhood, teen and young adult years. I won't share any spoilers, save to make note of her wording in the introduction, which kind of tipped me off: "...And for my parents, whom I know do love me. I know now they did the best they could." Oh, dear. I can't imagine how painful it was for her to process and write about this. And to me that—and want of a superb editor, no offense!—may explain why the first section of the book is so awkwardly, frustratingly organized, with lots of inexplicable switching back and forth in time. You know how some books flip time very effectively? This isn't one of them. But by the time we get past the core traumatic experiences of her early life, she starts to sail as a writer. I found myself savoring her prose, her honesty, and especially her ability to reveal the awe in the everyday for which I and so many others love her. When I was stuck in the doldrums after the beginning of the book, my dear friend Rebecca said, just keep going, Jo! I would offer the same advice to you. :)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bjørn

    What a mess. Wonderful, sweet, often scary mess –a journey –a life. There's no structure to this memoir-meets-personal-essays collection, but there's no structure to life either (I would know that best...) Ahern mentions towards the end of the book that she is 52 –I'm 42 and this book makes me look forward to my fifties, when hopefully I, too, will find my "enough". What a mess. Wonderful, sweet, often scary mess – a journey – a life. There's no structure to this memoir-meets-personal-essays collection, but there's no structure to life either (I would know that best...) Ahern mentions towards the end of the book that she is 52 – I'm 42 and this book makes me look forward to my fifties, when hopefully I, too, will find my "enough".

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Oh Shauna. I haven’t cried this hard in years because of a book. I felt as if I was living these moments with you. The last page... ugh the last page. I’m actively sobbing in my bookstore *with patrons in it* and I have never been less ashamed. You strong, beautiful, badass bitch. Spoiler alert: we are all enough.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Couldn’t get through this, as much as I tried.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    A fairly short, boring read. Similar to lots of memoirs out there with nothing unique or interesting to recommend it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    A heartening read So much in our world says we need to be something different than we are or have that one more thing to be happy. This is a book that says it’s okay to accept yourself. Shauna’s story is compelling and life giving.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

    Thank you to a Goodreads, Sasquatch Books, and Shauna M. Ahern for ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review from me. Like: - She was constantly learning about herself and the world around her, growing more - Discusses her overbearing, emotionally manipulative mother and the effects she had on her childhood and adulthood - Brings to light abusive and mentally ill parents - Her mental soundtrack. All her thoughts and life lessons and daily musing that's she's chosen to share with readers Thank you to a Goodreads, Sasquatch Books, and Shauna M. Ahern for ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review from me. Like: - She was constantly learning about herself and the world around her, growing more - Discusses her overbearing, emotionally manipulative mother and the effects she had on her childhood and adulthood - Brings to light abusive and mentally ill parents - Her mental soundtrack. All her thoughts and life lessons and daily musing that's she's chosen to share with readers through her book. So relatable! Love: - Real, raw, relatable - She learns to set boundaries and stick to them! - The way she speaks about people and especially her community is beautiful and awe inspiring. Dislike: - Wow, her mother didn't allow her to do anything and had brainwashed her into thinking that was okay, even as a young adult - A very Lena Dunham book at the beginning and I do not like her - thank goodness the entire book isn't like this! Wish that: - There was a little more balanced look at life. While this is her story, at times it seems like there is judgment towards people who find happiness in things that bring her unhappiness. Example some people find great joy in a daily morning makeup routine (me!). This isn't her and that's fine. I'm sure she didn't mean to come off as dismissive of other people's different experiences but with a book a little over 200 pages there's definitely room for a few clarifications to appear more inclusive of all experiences. Overall, a short book that took me awhile to read. It's one of those books that you pick up here and there to read a few pages; not rushing through to the finish line. Kind of like life. I mainly enjoyed it, but there were a few times when I didn't. The author is a very strong, outspoken woman who does not quiet herself for the ease of others. An admirable quality but sometimes it may not make for the type of book you're in the mood for. I highly recommend passing this one around to your friends and enjoying some good life discussions about its content.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I saw myself in many places This was an inciteful and liberating look at life, worth a read by any woman, encouraging us to be brave, honest and open, to hold out for more in some ways while accepting we are enough as we are in others. Her journey is challenging and impressive, but in some ways, the early chapters undermine this - they talk of her school years and the difficulty of not fitting in, skirting the real reasons for her difficulties (family background), and something about it feels I saw myself in many places This was an inciteful and liberating look at life, worth a read by any woman, encouraging us to be brave, honest and open, to hold out for more in some ways while accepting we are enough as we are in others. Her journey is challenging and impressive, but in some ways, the early chapters undermine this - they talk of her school years and the difficulty of not fitting in, skirting the real reasons for her difficulties (family background), and something about it feels superficial. I couldn't grasp where the self hatred came from. I'm glad I persevered to the unfolding of her deep story, but it felt like too long spent navel gazing which left a bad taste in my mouth. Other sections of the book lack the minute detail of that first section, almost skimming in comparison. That said, the book unfolds into a series of beautiful essays on becoming/ reclaiming self, growing, moving forward, finding peace and happiness, with insightful honesty and well-balanced light and depth. I underlined many passages which I will reread again and again. I'm glad the quality of the writing carried me past the unsatisfying early chapters to the gold within.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    Shauna seems late to the party. Late to accept herself. Late to acknowledge the truth of her childhood. Late to cash in on “Me Too” by writing a book. Her cry of “I don’t need you!” rings so false. You do need us. You needed us to read your blog (which I now know was just a lie). You need us to comment on your Instagram. You need us to buy your book. And I hope I never have “Enough” in the way she describe it. I never want to have enough of being the best me. I never want to have enough travel and Shauna seems late to the party. Late to accept herself. Late to acknowledge the truth of her childhood. Late to cash in on “Me Too” by writing a book. Her cry of “I don’t need you!” rings so false. You do need us. You needed us to read your blog (which I now know was just a lie). You need us to comment on your Instagram. You need us to buy your book. And I hope I never have “Enough” in the way she describe it. I never want to have enough of being the best me. I never want to have enough travel and adventure. I never want to look at my life an say I have had enough. A much better and truer version of this story is Roxanne Gay’s. Read that instead of this.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway (thank you Sasquatch Books!). It is interesting to me to read about others’ lives and experiences. This was no exception. There were parts that brought tears to my eyes as I could relate to the feelings she was sharing. And there were parts that were difficult to read without thinking of the person about whom pretty harsh and disturbing things were being shared and how he/she might feel about this being made public. But I suppose that is what a memoir is! I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway (thank you Sasquatch Books!). It is interesting to me to read about others’ lives and experiences. This was no exception. There were parts that brought tears to my eyes as I could relate to the feelings she was sharing. And there were parts that were difficult to read without thinking of the person about whom pretty harsh and disturbing things were being shared and how he/she might feel about this being made public. But I suppose that is what a memoir is! The good, bad and ugly. And isn’t that Shauna’s point? I think so anyway.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joni

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have celiac and I’ve followed Shauna’s work for a long time. She writes so honestly and vulnerably about what was going on behind the scenes. Also she writes unflinchingly and graciously about a truly difficult childhood. Her perspective on life is a gift and a challenge. A favorite line from the book is this one “Even though there is no basic security to the world, we can still choose to love it fiercely.”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna Guest-jelley

    A brave, unflinching book that looks at life honestly in all its pains and down in the dirt goodness. The interplay of challenge and joy, structure and form, makes this book un-put-downable. Once I started, I set everything else aside that I could and stayed up late to finish it. Then I woke up thinking about it the next morning. This gem of a book will stay with me for a long time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    I really love Shauna’s writing and have relished in her words since her early blog days. The essays skip around and aren’t really in a specific order, but I gobbled up every word. She’s raw and honest the whole way through which makes it relatable because she shares the good and bad of life, keeps it so real. Really beautifully written.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    Honest, wrenching, comforting, emboldening...this is an essential book for this moment. Shauna opens her heart and her life’s story to us, and you see facets of your own experience in her story. We are all ENOUGH, and more connection to each other is the only thing that can bring us more joy in this one life we’re given.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This was more of a collection of essays than a straight up memoir, but it still had a narrative arc. It was very, very good, although about a very traumatic childhood due to her mother's mental illness. I really appreciated how open and honest her account seemed to be.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    READ THIS BOOK! I have been a fan since the early Gluten-free Girl Blog days, it got me through my own journey going gfree. Enough is another wonderfully deep and real offering from Shauna that every woman can relate to on some level.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carin

    Not my favorite memoir/personal essay collection, but an insightful take on being raised by a narcissistic parent, Buddhism, the journey of life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    3.5 stars

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marla Elysian

    Inspiring! May God bless you, Shauna, our commonalities make me feel less alone in this world.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Disjointed, meandering

  26. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Loved this raw, honest dive into her life that was also super relatable as a woman growing up in a similar time period. I plan on reading this again and again.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Becky Sawielski

    Love.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emilycorak

    I thought it was beautiful - a candid memoir about having put up with enough to looking around and realizing you have enough

  29. 5 out of 5

    stephanie ann rosendorf

    Hard to put in words how powerful this book was! This book spoke to me in so many ways and I can only imagine how many others feel the same way. Highly recommemd!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Angie Harpole

    Definitely read this if you have had enough with all of the bullshit telling you to be a certain way. Or telling you that you aren’t enough. Or telling you you don’t have enough.

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