Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Magic Room Book Review

My diplomas sit in a box in a storage shed, dust resting still on their hard-sought frames.  I think of clients I once had when I was interning, where they must be by now in their lives.  I remember classes, papers written, friends.  Though I write for the love of it now and also for connection, I spend the majority of my time as wife and all of my time as mother to two precious girls.  And I’m in that phase of toddler motherhood where the challenge is mostly physical - up all night, getting milk, reading books, pushing strollers, swinging swings, burping babies, catching sliding girls, pigtails flying.  I wear sweats and go days without a shower; I don’t remember what it’s like to feel my legs when they’re shaved.  I’m in the trenches of young parenting, and most of the time, I revel in the mess, the learning, the sweet innocence.

But, I also miss my femininity.  Life sometimes feels slightly out-of-balance, with mommy winning over woman.  Over Christmas, then, I read Jeffrey Zaslow’s new book, The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for our Daughters, which not only helped me remember my life before children, before marriage, it conjured forth the me that was a bride, that dreamed of all the things I daily live.  I felt reconnected to that dreamy part of me that looked beyond my veil six years ago and gazed, teary-eyed, on my future husband.

The Magic Room, through the lens of a family-owned bridal shop business in Michigan called Becker’s and the personalities that created it, examines love, marriage, and girlhood dreams.  Zaslow journeys with readers through lives of brides and their families - looking at decisions that brought them to the dress shop as well as the shaping influences of the broader culture and how those have changed over the course of Becker’s history.

I’m not usually a nonfiction kinda gal, but this book captivated me as reading it caused me to reflect not only on the reasons why I got married, but also what I want for my own daughters when their time comes, what I want to teach them on their way to finding a husband.  Zaslow craftily uses the magic room, a hushed, mirrored, elevated, old bank vault where brides come to view themselves in “the one,” as a vehicle for investigating all that led up to that moment in the lives of American brides and detailing all the hopes for what follows. 

He urges readers, through relevant studies, statistics, and trends, to think past the magic room to life after the wedding. Although the research-driven psychologist in me thirsted for heartier discussions of findings in the book, Zaslow gently interweaves his research into the stories of marriage successes and wedding heartaches, allowing readers the opportunity to remember their own engagements or plan more realistically for their own futures. 

After reading The Magic Room and dreaming with the brides there, I had the urge to hold my husband tighter, longer.  Zaslow’s account, a must read for all who have daughters or long for marriage, is one of wistful pinings, devotion, tragedy, full-circle joy, realistic struggles.  In a culture where weddings are idealized, he makes the reader ponder, rightly, the marriage that follows after.

If you’re intrigued, come follow along as we discuss this endearing, heartfelt new book: The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for our Daughters.

The review above is a paid BlogHer Book Club Review.  Although I’m receiving compensation for my participation, the opinions expressed are purely my own - with no pricetag attached. :)

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