Review: Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing: Essays

Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing: Essays
Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing: Essays by Lauren Hough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a collection of essays. I rarely read a collection of essays, but I’d read Hough’s piece about being a cableman and really liked it so I wanted to see what all her other stories looked like too. And I was not disappointed.

“Most of the time, I figure it’s better to know the universe doesn’t pay out favors for magical thinking.”

Hough doesn’t hold back her punches. The first story takes place when someone blows up her car because she’s gay and then she gets blamed for it and has to have a trial. It’s incredible how messed up how our justice system can work (and in the military nonetheless) and how your life can turn upside down in one moment.

“I’ve learned, if not to expect the worst, to not be surprised by the worst.”

By all accounts, Hough has lived an unusual life. Brought up in a cult, her roots are all over the place and her family is in pieces everywhere. I didn’t grow up in the United States and had never heard of this cult before so all of it was new to me. She writes about it matter-of-factly and not with self-pity or even anger the way you’d expect someone who has gone through all that might have.

“You may think you have friends who’ll help you bury a body. But when the cops show up and flash their badges, your friends will point to bodies you’ve never seen to keep the cops from looking their way. There are only two sides, and when it comes down to it, even those with nothing to hide will side with those who have the power.”

Hough’s pieces are each more incredible than the last and yet they are full of life, wisdom, reality and life. So much of real life. I appreciated her no nonsense writing and found myself feeling incredulous, angry and frustrated at the number of life’s hurdles she’s been dealt.

“Fact is, there are more than two doors, forgiveness or Kathy Bates. The third door is, you don’t have to forgive at all. You can just go right on living your life with one less asshole to deal with.”

I really hope she keeps writing and telling her story.

with gratitude to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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