Every year, more than two million Americans experience the upheaval of divorce. There’s no shortage of books to help, but what distinguishes Mi Sook Park Westman’s is her common sense advice and her willingness to share her gut-wrenching personal narrative. Many experiencing similar life changes will no doubt recognize themselves.
After 17 years of marriage and two children, Westman’s husband left her for a younger woman. The author describes her initial devastation in a chapter poignantly titled “Agony”: “I don’t want to live. Why should I? It hurts, it burns, and I can’t breathe.” But Westman’s dark times don’t last long. Instead of wallowing, the author – who holds an MBA in economics and worked as project manager for Ikea – used her divorce to give her life shimmering new possibilities.
According to Westman, there are four phases to transverse: “Chaos,” “Agony,” “Normalization” and, finally, “Inspiration.” Even though this is a slim volume, Westman offers a thorough look at each phase, covering her personal experiences and the tools she used to heal. In the Normalization phase, for example, the author’s suggestions include: “Forgive if you can,” “Read and workout [sic,]” and “Cook food and bake bread.” As broad as these tips may seem, in Westman’s hands, they work.
What doesn’t work is the grammar. Korean is Westman’s first language, and the errors in syntax, tense, and word choice are frequently glaring. Occasionally, sentences make no sense: “Basic rule of thumbs as mentioned is that everything should be divided into two unless you have other marriage agreement that some assets belong to the one specific before the marriage.” An editor could easily remedy this.
Otherwise, Westman tells it like it is. The key is to create a new, authentic self. Readers short on ideas, or who can’t command the inner resolve to move on, will find How to Succeed in Divorcing not only a good place to start but a possible path to a new beginning.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.