May 12, 2012
Unbinding the Heart by Agapi Stassinopoulos
It looks like I'm probably going against the grain with my thoughts on this book, but unfortunately, I just couldn't bring myself to like it. I thought it was going to be a self help book, about finding joy in your life using Greek wisdom. Instead it was more like a memoir, and was very self focused on Agapi herself.
As a young girl, Agapi was raised by a mother who had a special joy in life, and a very special ability to give to others and have a positive outlook on things. Even after a divorce when Agapi was twelve, her mother still possesses that inner radiance that draws people to her, and it helps her daughters become a success as well. Agapi uses her mother's philosophy to impact her own life and have positive outcomes in what she does. And she details her life from a child to the present day.
This book was very much about Agapi. And while I'm sure she's a wonderful sweet person in real life, the book came across a little self centered. When she talks about other people you can see she genuinely cares about them, but the focus just isn't there. When she talks about her mother, the book is fantastic. In fact, the first few chapters, in which she is talking about her parents, are my favorite. Because her mother especially seemed like an incredible person. But even there she starts to derail a bit. When she talks about her mother going into the hospital, it is in the same breath as saying she is off to some book thing at some place or other being famous. And this happens a lot. I'm glad she has success as that her mother taught her not to practice false modesty, but humbleness is also attractive. Celebrate your successes but don't be consumed by them.
The book itself offered a few gems of wisdom into approaching life. Accepting things is one, wishing good things to happen is another. And I think that these are some useful and helpful tips for life. But as said before this is more of a memoir, not a self help book, and I went into it wanting the self help book, so I may be a little biased as a whole. I also thought that she tended to ramble a bit, and throw unnecessary detail. In describing her mother's stroke, for instance, she felt important to share that it happened in the bathroom "really a large dressing room between the bath and bedroom". Was that and mentioning that they had maids really necessary? I guess I just didn't see the relevance or what it added to the story and wish instead the focus had been on the mother and that experience.
I guess I sound overly harsh on this book but I was a bit disappointed to discover it wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I think Agapi has some good ideas, but this book really should be classified as a memoir, not the self help it's representing itself as. It just wasn't to my taste. Two and a half stars from me.
Unbinding the Heart