I think the hardest thing about writing this review was figuring out why this book annoyed me so much for the subject matter it addressed. It should’ve been something I received well given the subject matter and its intents as a self-help book, but the more I read it, the more I ended up reading mixed messages within it.
I tend to pick up self-help/health/wellness guides at random in many different aspects – social wellness, spiritual wellness, physical and emotional wellness among a number of different factors, and I do it for a variety of different groups – women’s health being a strong interest of mine as well. The title of this made me raise my eyebrows, though I’ve heard in social/health circles about the dominance of “nice girl” or “nice guy” syndrome – where people described as such are associated as being passive, overly accommodating, and inattentive to their own needs for the sake of pleasing others. Also for being unable to say “no” in a healthy way. It’s a real issue not limited to gender, but in this particular work – Beverly Engel addresses it with respect to abusive/manipulative relationships and addresses the matter to women. That’s a fair topic to cover given her background as a psychotherapist and addressing sexual abuse and women’s health issues. But I think juxtaposing this particular work with others on the same topic, it pales in comparison and falters more often than not.
It’s a book that attempts to be blunt in a “tough love” sort of way, but I couldn’t get over how it comes across with victim blaming – type statements and negative talk throughout the text. It sounds more patronizing than encouraging women to develop healthier esteem habits and assertiveness. The fact that a section of this book is entitled “Strong Women Aren’t Nice” made me want to throw the book against the wall. Well, Mrs. Engel, if I may state for the record: Strong women aren’t “mean” either. I think strength has more to do with how one applies and assert themselves for what they want in life.
Skip this one. There are much better texts out there that are encouraging and help women become stronger about themselves emotionally, spiritually, and assertively than this text. For a so called “feminist” text, it’s really horrible.
Overall score: 1/5 stars