Untamed: A Book Review

Philanthropist, activist and author Glennon Doyle’s latest book “Untamed” practically demands personal reflection. With an amazing sense of humor, and the loving interest of an old friend, Doyle weaves together stories from her life and provocative insight in this slim volume. Leaving no stone unturned from addiction to anger to heartbreak, the New York Times Bestselling author of Love Warrior, explores four keys for those who are ready to dare to feel, know, imagine and let some things burn in order to uncage themselves.

Beneath the raised white print and swirling pinks, purples and blues of the dust jacket, Doyle’s prose is warm and approachable, making the book a quick must-read. Even with tests and final projects approaching, I sped through the book in under three weeks crying and belly laughing along the way.  

(Have you read this book? The following review section will include details that may be considered spoilers. Be advised and read ahead with caution!) 

I was nervous to write this review because I did not want to condense such a rich work in any way. After having just finished the book, I can already feel myself itching to reread underlined passages. The chapters are organized by words or phrases instead of numbers, and I know that I will be drawn back to these words again and again: Knots, Dragon, Decals... 

Untamed” is disruptive. It demands personal reflection and likely a re-read, too. 

Doyle doesn’t let her readers get away with just shrugging, saying, “I’m OK” and moving on with their lives. This book may be a quick read, but it is not an easy one. 

In just around 300 pages, Doyle pushes readers to listen to their inner knowing, to identify the “ineffective solutions” they are using to stay numb to life, to turn towards discontent and to imagine the truest, most beautiful life for themselves. Doyle challenges ideas of right and wrong decisions arguing that this is subjective and often culturally constructed. Doyle moves the entire goal post when she suggests that being fine is not the goal and that real lived life is painful. She openly acknowledges that life is, as she puts it, “brutiful” (brutal and beautiful, for those not in the know). 

Doyle is an unabashed feminist who challenges readers not to accept the toxic gender norms that permeate every level of our society down to shampoo marketing. Doyle argues for a gender defying God and notes the continuing homophobia in the church and American society. Doyle says that “Explanation is fear preparing its case” and that we need to be careful that our love is not control, nor does our fear for our loved ones create the very rejection that we are fearful of them having to face. 

Doyle comes back again and again to the power of truth and imagination throughout the novel. She doesn’t shy away from discussing her life from her struggles with bulimia and addiction, to parenting triumphs and mistakes, to her friendship with Elizabeth “Liz” Gilbert (yeah, I’m jealous, too), to her divorce, to her marriage to Abby Wambach, to her journey with God. 

Doyle asks her readers to trust themselves for the first time in a long time and be who they were before society told them who to be.

This book may not be for you if you detest metaphors. There are quite a lot. Some readers may also find Doyle’s brief description of France to be just another romanticized account of Europe written by an American, while others will question Doyle’s approach to supporting racial equity and the Black Lives Matter movement. Doyle anticipates much of this critique in the book. 

There is no guarantee that “Untamed” will be a stepping-stone to greater clarity, but at the very least, it is a welcoming and reflective rest stop. Happy reading!