Higher Love: a psychedelic travel memoir of heartbreak and healing

Anne Kiehl Friedman

Publisher: Boldspark Pages: 257 Price: (paperback) $12.99 ISBN: 9798990392311 Reviewed: May, 2024

Anne Kiehl Friedman’s memoir effectively wields vulnerability and honesty to vividly document an unconventional journey of self-healing.

At 27, Friedman was beginning to think she’d never find true love. But in 2011, her online dating efforts led her to successful business owner David. After a first date surpassing her expectations, Friedman’s tentative attraction blossomed into full-blown love; two months later, David proposed. But barely a year after she said yes, David ended their relationship, plunging Friedman into a downward spiral of shame.

One sleepless night while home in Illinois, Friedman decided the only way to get over David was to travel, seeking answers outside of popular Western medicine or psychotherapy. She settled on a Costa Rica yoga retreat, a trip that deepened her curiosity about achieving spiritual and psychological enlightenment through the usage of drugs like cannabis, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and LSD. Determined to free herself from the ghosts of her trauma, Friedman traversed the globe, chasing wisdom born from the depths of chemically induced nirvana.

Friedman’s introspective memoir movingly explores romantic loss, construction of identity, and family dynamics. Her emotional vulnerability is a narrative strength, and she relentlessly excavates and questions her experiences and feelings. When writing about the connection between her pot habit and living with chronic Lyme Disease, she is compellingly honest: “I didn’t think of anyone else who used drugs as worthless, much less as a ‘louse,’ but somehow, on me, the judgment seemed wholly deserved.”

While the prose fearlessly exposes Friedman’s anxieties and insecurities, the story’s structure—travel somewhere, ingest a mind-altering drug or drugs, have a psychological trip filled with short-lived revelations, repeat—begins to feel restrictive. Additionally, some readers may bristle at Friedman’s Eat, Pray, Love approach to curing her woes, which frames aspirational self-actualization through one privileged, wealthy woman’s romanticizing and exoticizing foreign cultures.

Still, Friedman’s memoir should find a satisfied audience with its expressive, empathetic internal monologue that reminds readers of the transformative power of self-love.

Also available in hardcover, ebook and audio book.

Author's Current Residence
Washington, D.C.
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