What Could Go Wrong - Yvonne LintonI recently received a review copy of "What Could Go Wrong - Lessons from Living on the Edge" by Yvonne Linton. Yvonne's life is certainly full of ups and downs, and she shares all of her troubles quite openly, hoping that the rest of us take solace from the idea that we are not alone in our imperfections. It is a book along the lines of "I screwed up royally and survived - don't worry about the minor mistakes you've made."
Yvonne had a family situation which had her undertaking international travel at a young age, and then when she entered the workforce she became a textbook salesperson who had to travel extensively around the US. It's almost a given that traveling a lot will end up with a percentage of problems - missed flights, lost keys, lost cars, lost luggage. Add into the mix that Yvonne likes to camp, and you get stories of poison oak, attacking ants, troublesome neighbors and so on.
I've certainly read books before which were humorous memoirs of "look at the funny things that happened to me in life". I appreciate being able to take a peek into another person's life and to remember that we're all only human. Yvonne, with her breadth of experiences, has had far more opportunity for misfortune to strike than most of us.
There were a few instances where Yvonne shows appreciation for the people around her who rescue her from her misfortunes. However, in many cases she is dismissive or even snide about those who are involved. In most of the cases it seems clear that Yvonne got herself into the mess through lack of attention or preparation, which makes it less sympathetic when she then gets into a giant tangle. She rarely seems to "learn anything" from what happens. If anything, she keeps feeling that "these things always happen to me" and "I attract trouble". Sure, if you are notorious for not bringing maps and not preparing for a road trip, it's likely you're going to get lost. It's not that the fates have it out for you. It's that you are not doing the basic steps to ensure your own safety.
It's always hard to be critical of another person's life. Just look at "Eat, Pray, Love". The author of that book had her failings, wrote about them openly, and some people lambasted her for it. None of us are perfect. There should definitely be kudos given to someone brave enough to expose their failings in order to try to help others.
Even with that firmly in mind, I just could not get into enjoying this book. It was like watching an engineer drive a train into a wall, get out, blame the train, then get into another train and aim it at a wall again. If there was more of a sense that she was learning and growing and improving along the way, I would have appreciated it much more. If there was a sense that she realized she was causing her own problems and was taking steps to learn those skills, that would be wonderful! Think of the angst she would save her family and friends, never mind herself. But instead you get the sense that she blames the fates and is flippant about anything she could have done differently.
Finally, although I understand this was an advance copy, I get advance copies fairly regularly. This book was full of so many typos and issues that I find it hard to imagine they'll all be fixed in the final version. Usually content is in far better shape before it's distributed.
I think if the book was looked at with more of an eye towards what was learned, and how things changed over time, it would create much more of a connection. As it stands, it's a disjointed list of "bad things that happened to me" which, while sometimes amusing, as a whole gets depressing and almost frustrating as a set. I would be able to recommend a rewrite that showed growth and awareness, but as a list of problems it just doesn't inspire me.
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