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This Is Not The Story You Think It Is Book Cover

Title: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness

Author: Laura Munson

No. of Pages: 256

First Released: April 1, 2010

Synopsis (Courtesy of Joseph-Beth Booksellers): “Laura Munson’s essay in the ‘New York Times,’ about the time she was tested in a way she never anticipated, created a firestorm-now here’s the whole story.

When Laura Munson’s essay was published, ‘The New York Times’ was so flooded with responses that they had to close down the comment feature. Readers wrote in saying that they had sent the column to all of their friends. Therapists wrote Munson to tell her that they were passing it out to their clients.

What did Munson write that caused such a fervor?

Laura detailed what happened when her husband of more than twenty years told her he wasn’t sure he loved her anymore and wanted to move out. And while you might think you know where this story is going, this isn’t the story you think it is. Laura’s response to her husband: I don’t buy it.

In this poignant, wise, and often funny memoir, Munson recounts a period of months in which her faith in herself-and her marriage-was put to the test. Shaken to the core after the death of her beloved father, not finding the professional success that she had hoped for, and after countless hours of therapy, Laura finally, at age forty, realized she had to stop basing her happiness on things outside her control and commit herself to an ‘End of Suffering.'”

Comments and Critique: I am not certain that I can do justice to this book.  It had such a profound impact on my approach to life, to my marriage, that I am still processing what to do with this information.  Ms. Munson presents her story in such a forthright manner, her pain and terror at what is occurring in her marriage is palable and at times very uncomfortable to read.  I alternated between not wanting to put myself through the anguish but curiosity to see how her philosophy worked in the end.  I forced myself to read one page at a time, as it was meant to be read.  After all, if she did not know how her experiment was going to end when she started it, how fair is it for the reader to jump ahead and read her conclusions?  The journey Ms. Munson goes on during this one summer is the beauty of the story.

How can I describe This Is Not The Story You Think It Is?   The frontpiece of the novel informs the reader that it is a memoir.  Of that, there is no doubt.  However, it is so much more than just a memoir.  It is a change of life, a new philosophy that Ms. Munson uncovers one summer as she struggles to find happiness in a situation she never considered she would face.  It is a self-help book in every essence of the word, as Ms. Munson shares with the reader her own effort to help herself find happiness and peace.

There are so many gems in this book; I found myself wanting to break out the highlighter to showcase sentence after sentence that resonated with me at a deep level.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” (pg. 61)

“It’s when you stop wanting outside of your control, that you’ll be happy.” (pg. 4)

“Our happiness is not outside ourselves. It’s all here. In us. It always was.” (pg. 116)

For someone with low self-esteem, what life-changing words!  Words are just words and can only upset us if we let them.  We each generate our own happiness.  If you take them to heart, can you imagine the peace, the relief you would feel?   I can.  Make no mistake, Ms. Munson fought this lesson.  It was a battle that took her four months to win, and even then, it was a day-to-day victory.   But the end result was worth the battle, and that is what counts.

This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness is an amazing story of patience, fortitude and love – love of life, love of self, love of family.  Whether she believes it or not, Laura Munson is a wise woman, and we would do well to heed her words of wisdom.

Thank you to Lydia Hirt of Putnam/Amy Einhorn Books for my advance reading copy!

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