Love, Retold by Tikva Wolf
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
First Published: June 2nd, 2017
Publisher: Thorntree Press
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Graphic Novel, Memoir, Nonfiction, Poliamory, Relationships
Tikva Wolf has witnessed love transcend and evolve beyond the rigid, traditionalist trappings of the fairy-tale romance. Love, Retold is a meditation on love and companionship for people who don’t remember feudalism. Each chapter explores Wolf’s experiences with loved ones—Wolf’s lovers and their lovers. The stories capture key moments in these relationships, and they reflect on the murkier, tenebrous aspects of love, especially—but not exclusively—the non-monogamous kind. These stories illuminate and revere uncertainty, confronting the realities of mismatched needs and desires with compassion and self-reflection. In a world obsessed with beginnings and endings, this is a book about middles.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about ‘‘middles’’ before. The relationships I read about normally have a clear or somewhat clear beginning and/or end.
So this was refreshing in a way. Unexpected, to tell you the truth, but not a bad surprise. Even If Tikva Wolf does not narrate how her relationships started and ended, we do understand what Tikva valued about her relationships and partners and how both affected her.
But this is extremely different from her previous book, Ask Me About Poliamory: The Best of Kimchi Cuddles. I read that one a couple of weeks ago and absolutely enjoyed it. It was clear, inspiring and moving. This book, however, is less straightforward. Actually, it’s very poetic. I’ll warn you, because a lot of people do not like that, is has quite an amount of purple prose.
I found it beautiful, because it felt as though she was writing love letters to some of the people she’s been with in the past and have helped her understand life and love, even if the relationships themselves did not last. There was absolutely no hate, only love.
And that’s wonderful. This is a feel-good book, even with its sadder moments. At the same time, I have to say I was a tiny bit annoyed with some her motivational speech, since oftentimes she gives advice that she doesn’t necessarily follow herself or that is too ‘‘positive’’ and requires changing a lot of our own selves to be able to follow.
She did that in Kimchi Cuddles as well, but I guess I did not mind it at all because it was people asking for advice, which she gave to them. Other times, she would discuss subjects like poliamory, transgenderism and gender, so it was intersectional, whereas here she gives her own self advice and discusses poliamory with the use of metaphors (almost) only.
I guess ‘‘middles’’ without a beginning and end are not exactly for me. But there is still much to enjoy and take from this book.
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