Book Review: Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give by Ada Calhoun
Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give by Ada Calhoun
Published May 2017
W.W. Norton Company
Ada Calhoun gives a brutally honest look at married life’s joys and heartbreaks.
“The first 20 years are the hardest,” someone tells her.
Oh, that’s all it takes?
In this nonfiction collection of essays, Ada Calhoun writes about the no-frills reality of long-term commitment. These anecdotes are prime examples of the stories we donâ€™t want to tell when giving wedding toasts. The ones about lost soulmates and extramarital affairs.
The alarm bells ring louder and louder when reading Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give. This is marriage? If going off of Calhoun’s essays, it’s a mix of wanting to cheat, fantasizing about being single, compromising on when and how many kids to have, rage-fueled road trips, and recriminations.
Actually, that sounds pretty accurate.
As are the other parts she points out, such as inside jokes, shared experiences,
In The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck explains that we must experience true pain to be able to identify and appreciate true joy.
“Move out or grow in any dimension and pain and well as joy will be your reward. A full life will be full of pain.”
The marriage explored in Calhoun’s essays is carved from this concept, especially in Toast 5 about the car trip to Gettysburg. It takes a road trip from hell to appreciate the sweet victory of being there.
An unmarried person reading Calhoun’s essays might scream and run for the hills.
For the married readers, I can see this book being potentially divisive. Some may see it as the truth-telling they’ve longed to hear. Others might see it as overly cynical.
She does provide food for thought. Marriage isn’t the fairy tale happily ever after that we often see in romance novels and movies. It’s messy and frustrating and wonderful.
Either way, she’s probably wise in not using this info for wedding toasts.