Brave(ish): A Memoir of a Recovering Perfectionist

🐞 🐞 🐞


Margaret Davis Ghielmetti

She Writes Press

September 15, 2020

272 Pages


At forty, Margaret quits her sales job to follow her husband’s hotel career to Paris. She’s setting sail on this adventure with a glass half full of bravery, a well-traveled passport, a journal in which she plans to write her novel, and the mentally engrained Davis Family Handbook of Rules to Live By.

Everyone tells Margaret she’s living the dream, but she feels adrift without a professional identity. Desperate to feel productive and valued, she abandons her writing and throws herself into new roles: perfect wife, hostess, guide, and expatriate. When she and her husband move to Cairo, however, the void inside she’s been ignoring threatens to engulf her. It’s clear that something needs to change, so she does the one thing she was raised never to do: asks for—and accepts—help.

Over the next fifteen years abroad, the cultures of Egypt, Thailand, and Singapore confront Margaret with lessons she never would have learned at home. But it’s only when they move back to Chicago—with Margaret now stepping into the role of perfect caretaker to her parents—that she has to decide once and for all: will she dare to let go of the old rules and roles she thinks keep her safe in order to step into her own life and creative destiny?


Brave(ish) is supposed to be an uplifting book, but, man, it depressed me. I’m happy for the author that she was able to eventually understand what she really wants out of life, that she finally realized it wasn’t her dream to follow her husband around the world and throw a bunch of parties to help his career, that she could tell people “no” and still feel lovable.

But this book reads like a series of sad events that happens to a very lonely person—a person who gains some insight over time but who experiences very little connection with her world. I had trouble feeling anything while reading Ghielmetti’s story. I still have no solid grasp on who her husband is. In fact, he sounds kind of terrible, honestly. After finishing the book, I can tell the author feels more comfortable in her own skin, which is great. But I’m not sure if she’s happier? More content? Fulfilled? On a journey she actually enjoys? Basically, I saw a lot of growth but not a lot of joy, so I’m left feeling confused. And a little melancholy.

Thank you to She Writes Press for the ARC.

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