Wiving by Caitlin Myer is a literary memoir of one woman’s journey from wife to warrior, in the vein of breakout hits like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle.
At thirty-six years old, Caitlin Myer is ready to start a family with her husband. She has left behind the restrictive confines of her Mormon upbringing and early sexual trauma and believes she is now living her happily ever after . . . when her body betrays her. In a single week, she suffers the twin losses of a hysterectomy and the death of her mother, and she is jolted into a terrible awakening that forces her to reckon with her past—and future.
This is the story of one woman’s lifelong combat with a culture—her “escape” from religion at age twenty, only to find herself similarly trapped in the gender conventions of the secular culture at large, conventions that teach girls and women to shape themselves to please men, to become good wives and mothers. The biblical characters Yael and Judith, wives who became assassins, are her totems as she evolves from wifely submission to warrior independence.
An electric debut that loudly redefines our notions of womanhood, Wiving grapples with the intersections of religion and sex, trauma and love, sickness and mental illness, and a woman’s harrowing enlightenment. Building on the literary tradition of difficult women who struggle to be heard, Wiving introduces an urgent, striking voice to the scene of contemporary women’s writing at a time when we must explode old myths and build new stories in their place.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CAITLIN MYER is the daughter of a poet and a visual artist, and she grew up in a large, chaotic Mormon family in Provo, Utah. Her short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in No Tokens, Electric Literature , The Butter, Cultural Weekly , and Joyland , among others, and she was a 2012 MacDowell Colony Fellow. In 2010, Myer founded the San Francisco–based literary reading series, Portuguese Artists Colony (PAC), which had its first ever performance in Portugal in September 2019. For seven years she traveled the world, and she has recently settled in Guimarães, Portugal.
Advance Praise for Wiving:
“An absorbing, emotionally raw confessional memoir.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A beautiful, heartbreaking book grappling with what it means to live in a female body; what it takes to love and to wrench oneself out of the constraints of love and into a terrifying and dazzling freedom. A gem of a book that is more important now than ever.”
— Nayomi Munaweera, award-winning author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors
“Wiving is a wonder, a hypnotic account of the dangers of desire—specifically female
desire—when it dares to run counter to all the barriers that were created to keep such passions in
their place. Myer’s self-examination and honesty go way past brave and into a dizzying kind of
free-fall confession. When I finished this, I felt heart-broken to know what finally ‘shook her
free.’ Highly recommended.” — Glen David Gold, author of Carter Beats the Devil and I Will Be Complete
“In Wiving, a memoir of her journey away from Mormonism, Caitlin Myer brings a compelling
new voice: lyrical, heart-wrenching, and sexy. Myer’s identification with the Biblical figures
Judith and Yael and her wild, unconventional choices kept me enthralled.” — Ayelet Waldman, bestselling author of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits and Bad Mother
“Among America’s lingering mysteries is one called “Utah.” In trying to leave its religious and cultural strictures, the author is haunted by memories of a loving, if claustrophobic family, a frowning community, and her own rebellious spirit. Relationships, desperate travel exacerbated by an adventurous spirit, bring her to a hard earned truce in an account of moving and courageous candor.” — Thomas McGuane, author of Driving on the Rim and Gallatin Canyon.
Note: I was provided a copy of this novel.