Book review and synopsis for Untamed by Glennon Doyle, an inspirational memoir about living a truer and "wilder" life.
SynopsisUntamed is about memorist Glennon Doyle's journey to freeing herself and allowing herself to be a truer form her herself. It starts with her being "caged" in by the world's demanding telling people (but especially women) how to be and act and goes on in a series of short essays to explain her journey to becoming "free."
(The Detailed Plot Summary is also available, below)
Book Summary & Key IdeasChapter-by-Chapter SummarySee the Chapter-by-Chapter Summary of UntamedKey Ideas and Takeaways
In the Prologue, Doyle describes taking her daughter, Tabitha, to a cheetah run. The zookeeper insists that the cheetah has a good life at the zoo, but Doyle sees it and feels sad for the cheetah. Doyle imagines that, if asked, the cheetah would say that it knows it should be grateful for the life it leads, but something is missing and that it longs to be wild.
In Part I: Caged, Doyle discusses the messages girls are given about how to act, about learning about Eve's original sin, and about being told to do what's "right" or what she "should" do instead of what they want to do. Doyle also recalls telling her therapist that she has fallen in love with a woman, only to be given the advice that she should try giving her husband blow jobs if she's reluctant to have the intimacy of sex with him.
In Part II: Keys, Doyle discusses letting go of the ideas that she has clung to in the past in order to allow herself to evolve and continue evolving. It's not about clinging to a new set ideas, but rather accepting that life will involve a continual birth and rebirth of ideas. Doyle describes meeting Abby and knowing instantly that it was right. She also discusses needing to imagine a new life when letting go of the one you thought it was supposed to be.
In Part III: Free, Doyle describes the difficult process of deciding whether to leave her husband. She talks about letting go of the idea that she needed to be a martyr for her children, by realizing it's an unfair burden to place on them and that it was teaching them the wrong thing. Womanhood had to be more than just selflessness and letting go of your own desires. She talks about wanting to raise her children to be brave and to know themselves. She also had tell her mother that she wasn't welcome until she was ready to accept her and Abby together.
Doyle also talks how her bulimia and alcoholism were both products of her need to try to control her unhappy feelings. The then tried to be a perfect woman and it still left her unhappy and anxious. She then tried to take on an identity of being "broken and beautiful," but that implies that she's broken and there's a perfect version of herself she "should" be. Now, she's determined to accept herself as she is. She discusses her anxiety and depression and how she's dealt with it.
In terms of parenting, Doyle discusses raising her daughters to be feminists, but also realizing that she should be raising her son in the same way. Boys need to be taught that they have the freedom to be sensitive and to be taught that they should serve their family. Doyle also encourages parents to talk to their children, even when it's difficult. Doyle encourages teaching kids to use their "imagination" to help them empathize with others. She also believes that kids are overparented and underprotected. This generation tries to prevent kids from feeling any discomfort, when they should be allowing them to learn how to deal with stuff.
Doyle also discusses her activism and social issues, including the separation of families at the border and racism. She says that activism downstream is not enough, but people also have to fight "upstream" to address the policies and people that cause these downstream issues, or risk being complicit. She discusses her own activism and the process of learning and unlearning what she thinks she knows. Doyle encourages people to use their imagination to understand the bravery of parents who are willing to anything to make a better life for their children. In regards to race, Doyle acknowledges that she has more to figure out but wants to keep doing the work to keep fighting.
A number of chapters are also dedicated to the conflict between religion and her sexuality. Doyle welcomes questions because unasked questions become prejudices. Ultimately, Doyle says that people need to trust themselves and what they know is right, as opposed to what they are taught to believe.
For more detail, see the full Chapter-by-Chapter Summary.
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I love this review! It’s very thoughtful and honest.
thank you cassie! much appreciated! :)