In Untamed, author-philanthropist Glennon Doyle breaks free from her cage and inspires us to do the same. Brimming with intimate wake-up calls and eye-opening anecdotes, this memoir is perfect for anyone looking for inspiration in life. A #1 New York Times bestseller, Untamed is Doyle’s most recent—and most revealing—memoir yet as she navigates the murky waters of conformity, using an unhappy marriage as a backdrop.
Following her ex-husband’s infidelities and her crumbling marriage, Doyle concludes: “Hell hath no fury like a memoirist whose husband just fucked up her story.” And does the memoirist ever deliver.
Doyle opens Untamed with a scene of her and her children visiting the zoo. She recalls watching the cheetahs, resigned to their cages, and likens their experiences to the experiences of women being bound by societal expectation and patriarchal systems. Doyle illustrates her caging through internalized misogyny, religious doctrine, an eating disorder, homophobia, alcoholism, and an unfaithful marriage.
In the beginning, Doyle has no answers. Instead, readers follow a misguided teen as she grows into adulthood and wrestles with life’s emerging quandaries. On her struggles with body image and bulimia, Doyle writes: “She must leave no outward evidence of her hunger. Good girls aren’t hungry, furious, or wild. All of the things that make a woman human are a good girl’s dirty secret.” These ruminations of her past are ultimately left incomplete.
Meanwhile, in an exhilaratingly truthful sequence, Doyle uses her daughters to portray the muzzle that society places on young girls. During a movie night in which her daughter asks her friends whether they’re hungry, the young boys look inwardly at their physiological desires to determine they are, while the girls looked outwardly at others to conclude—untruthfully—they were all full. She writes: “When a woman learned that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn how to please herself.”
As the book progresses, and Doyle opens up about her struggles, we see her slowly break free from the cages that used to bind her. Perhaps Doyle’s most freeing discovery came after recognizing her sexuality that she suppressed for far too long. Doyle, a former Christian blogger, publicly outed herself following her second book tour: “There is no glory except through your story.”
This Adele-approved and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick is about many things. It’s about a hardened woman who’s infuriated after years of denying her own discontent. It’s about a mother slowly dying for her children by showing them how to fully live. Untamed is also about newfound love, the enigmatic moment Doyle saw soccer player (and wife-to-be), Abby Wambach, across the room and thought: There she is.
Doyle concludes that faith and the gentle persuasion of others mustn’t extinguish internal desires. Referencing the biblical Eve, the scapegoat for the humanity’s evil, the author pens a feminist message: “Own your wanting… Eat the apple… Let it burn.”
Powerful and disenthralling—Untamed uncovers how society absentmindedly defines what women should strive to become or value in life. Doyle’s “slow growth” is as much a poignant invitation to the author as it is to the reader. We watch as she explores the cages that people build around themselves—and then dismantles them in this blindsiding piece of her heart.