Maybe you should talk to someone — Book Review

Fitzgerald Afful
Amateur Book Reviews
3 min readJul 19, 2019

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Written by Lori Gottlieb and divided into 4 main parts, Maybe you should talk to someone is a memoir of Lori’s patients (or clients if you may), their growth from the beginning of therapy to what she calls “termination” tied to her therapy with her own therapist and her growth. Beautifully written with such a cinematic feel, this is definitely my favorite book of 2019, yet.

Aside Lori herself, there are 5 main characters: John, who is a self-absorbed asshole, who comes to learn that he’s hiding traumatic pain, and calling everyone an idiot is a mask to keep his feelings buried deep. Julie is a funny young professional with a terminal illness but does not want that to deter her from living a full life. Charlotte struggles with very poor relationship choices and Rita is an older woman whose lonely past is preventing her from forming relationships and being happy. The last character is Wendell, Lori’s therapist who bares her open just like she does her patients.

“And then Margo gets angry — can you believe it?” he’s saying. “But she doesn’t tell me she’s angry. She just acts angry, and I’m supposed to ask her what’s wrong. But I know if I ask, she’ll say, ‘Nothing,’ the first three times, and then maybe the fourth or fifth time she’ll say, ‘You know what’s wrong,’ and I’ll say, ‘No, I don’t, or I wouldn’t be asking! ’”

Starting almost every chapter with her chart note on a patient, you get the background to the problem before she gradually builds up from there following her very interesting patients and their journeys through developing a therapeutic relationship, and the slow progress of healing. These are heartbreaking, sad, but also funny stories, with a message of hope: that we can all fix ourselves, even if we sometimes need guidance.

At various points, it feels very vulnerable, final chapters especially: like a very long episode of the depressing TV show ‘This is Us’ (even more coincidental that one of the characters there works in TV).

And even though I have never been to a therapist, the stories are so relatable. Lori once in a while gives you a view into her job when she describes some of the stress she goes through with patients including how to act when you see them outside sessions, even goes on to share the challenges of clients who don’t want to change. She does a good job of accepting that though she recognizes some of the techniques Wendell uses on her as those she regularly uses on her patients, she has no antidote for them and cannot stop her emotions from being laid bare.

“I watch John for his reaction. He takes a breath and seems like he’s about to say something flip but then decides not to. He’s quiet for a minute, gazing at Rosie, who has fallen asleep.

“Yeah,” he says. “I do act like an asshole.” Then he smiles and adds, “Sometimes.”

It’s incredibly nice to see how most stories or in this case, patients’ sessions finally end in self-realization and contentment even if the author fails to acknowledge the latter or tries to counter it with the future’s uncertainty.

I definitely recommend.

Best Parts: Sessions with John

Worst Parts: N/A

Favorite Quote: “Yeah,” he says. “I do act like an asshole.” Then he smiles and adds, “Sometimes.” — John

Rating: 4.75 / 5 stars

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Fitzgerald Afful
Amateur Book Reviews

Book reviews, flash fiction and random rants about iOS Eng. Portfolio: fitzafful.github.io