untamed, by glennon doyle

Untamed, by Glennon Doyle

Many of the reviews I have read for Untamed are praising every word that Glennon Doyle has written. And while I am not here to be negative, I am here to be honest: I was not instantly filled with a sense of overwhelming praise for this book. At least not for the first half of it… but it got better.

In the beginning, I found I wasn’t ‘buying into’ a lot of what Doyle was trying to capture for me. Some of her points seemed repetitive, and maybe that’s because I have read so many incredible books around self-growth and trying to do better this year, and this came at the tail end of that. I also think that those books (For the Love of Men, Between the World and Me, & Era of Ignition to name a few) dove a bit deeper into some of the topics Doyle writes about, so it was sometimes difficult not to view Doyle’s story as just another privileged white women trying to organize her thoughts.

That being said, overall, I did enjoy Untamed. I thought that most of it was timely and relevant, and as a white women I feel the need to constantly read literature to help me self-actualize and grow. And while Doyle is also a white woman like me, she makes a lot of great starting points as to how we can do better. (And as I write this I am reminded that I need to continue making a conscious effort to read more books by women of colour. The next self-growth and allyship book I have on my shelf is Me and White Supremacy).

All of that being said, Untamed really picked up for me in the second half. I found that Doyle made relatable, tangible arguments, and that she didn’t seem to be grasping at straws –like she sometimes was earlier in the book– to create relevant stories and thematic endings. Doyle had a lot of worthwhile points to make, and I will say that the book took a turn for me in the best way. I got it it then: I understood why the book received so much love and was so well-received. Doyle gives the reader some invaluable soundbites and spurs a tangled spiderweb of challenging, vulnerable thoughts on various topics.

Because I listened to the audiobook, I made notes where I could for the purpose of this blogpost. Here are the elements I found most noteworthy (at least when I had hands to jot notes down!) while listening to this book. I do mention some of my *eye roll* moments, but most of the notes below are positive, especially as they continue on. Let me know your thoughts on the book as well!

Notes, thoughts and quotes:

“We can do hard things.“

“It’s a lifelong battle for a woman to stay whole and free in a world hellbent on caging her.” (And to Doyle’s point: Boys are in cages too- just a different type of cage, with different expectations).

Doyle recalls an Alicia Keys story and quote that I quite liked: “I do whatever the hell I want.”

Human qualities are not gendered. There is no masculinity and not feminine traits. These are beliefs; they are not truth.

Men should be able to express pain- let them cry, let them be soft. “Perhaps part of a woman’s freeing herself is freeing her partner, her father, her brother, and her son. When our men and boys cry, let’s not say to them with our words or energy, “Don’t cry, honey.” Let’s get comfortable allowing our men to gently and consistently express the pain of being human, so that violent release isn’t their go-to option. Let’s embrace our strength so our men can take their turn being soft. Let us—men, women, and all those in between or beyond—reclaim our full humanity.

Standards are set up society, both males and females are equally as poisoned.

(Also, as a side note, for someone who says she has “no friends,” Doyle really refers to a lot of friends in the book 🤣)

We should train our children to be critics of culture and not turn a blind eye.

On race: “Programmed, hidden racism is deadly.” and we need to “detox from racism.”

Doyle mentions that Botox = Misogyny. (Okay, so this statement didn’t sit right with me… I do understand where Glennon is coming from, and I am happy that the conclusion she came to works for her, but it did seem judgemental. In my opinion, whatever happened to doing “whatever the f*ck” we wanted? Societal standards aside? What about doing what makes you feel good and makes YOU happy? This is what I mean about the first half of the book… it’s a little conveniently judgemental).

I really enjoyed the take on religion and the history of how evangelicals became anti-gay and anti-abortion. How this hateful trajectory developed was so interesting to hear an introduction on, and is something I am going to look into further: during the civil rights movement, of course white men were worried about their power needed to take a stance on something. (Insert heavy eye roll).

This way of life requires living in integrity: ensuring that my inner self and my outer self are integrated. Integrity means having only one self. Dividing into two selves – the shown self and the hidden self – that is brokeness, so I do whatever it takes to stay whole. I do not adjust myself to please the world. I am myself whereever I am, and let the world adjust.”

Doyle’s ‘answering the door’ metaphor a bit ridiculous and drips of white privilege. It’s a bit of a stretch to prove her point.

We need to pay attention to our anger. Pay attention to our bodies while the anger. “What is my anger telling me about me?”

I really liked this point: If we cannot forgive and move on then perhaps we move on and forgiveness will follow. 

For those who deal with panic and panic attacks, Doyle offers some good tips and advice that are worth reading. I didn’t have a chance to write them all down, but I recommend checking them out!

The more powerful and happy a woman becomes, we are more likely to think “she is so entitled” and dislike her. I like that Doyle uses real-life examples and honestly showcases how she has judged before.

We (women) say “I feel like” instead of “I know.” THIS IS SO TRUE.

Oprah taught her “Don’t be modest.” Modesty is a fake mask, a game. Don’t take comfort in the weakness and pain of other women.

“The braver I am, the luckier I get.”

Doyle includes good conversation tips on teaching kids empathy – ie) to use imagination to bridge the gap between differences between a child and their classmate.

Doyle’s bitterness against fun and people having time for fun, and recognizing that was really interesting.

“We are only bitter about other people’s joy in direct proportion to our commitment to keep joy from ourselves.”

The way Doyle deals with the new stepmom in their lives is very on-point and honest.

On white privilege: now that I am reading so much about white privilege, I see it everywhere. And while it isn’t helpful to judge anyone’s upbringing, the challenges each individual faces and what people have been through, some of the problems that Doyle discusses aren’t relatable issues to the lower-middle class or poverty-stricken population. (Please refer back to her ‘ringing the doorbell story’). But I am working through this too: I am constantly working on being an ally, and continuing to learn and grow. I am also trying to understand the headspace of others, meaning I also have to think that Glennon is writing to a certain audience, and she is drawing from her own experience. I am that certain audience, and I am a white woman. And I am challenging what I am reading more than I have before. I want Doyle to go a step further, to reach outside her own box. I’m not saying what she said is invaluable or unhelpful: we write what we know. And I applaud Doyle for being open, honesty vulnerable, poignant, and forgiving of herself and others. She is willing to learn and do better, and it is evident in her words. These are just the thoughts that were going through my head as I read, and it’s a reflection of where I am in my self-growth right now too. I’m questioning these some of her points to better myself, and I think that’s a good thing.

“Consuming keeps us distracted, busy, and numb. Numbness keeps us from becoming.”

“We can stop asking what the world wants from us and instead ask ourselves what we want for our world.”

“The miracle of grace is that you can give what you have never gotten.”

^ I like ending my notes with that quote! ^


I hope my review didn’t seem negative. If you subscribe to my blog, you know that I am typically quite positive in my reviews, and I always try to find the good in each book. And there was a lot of good in this book. But, it is also my duty to command to myself to dig deeper and notice holes that can be further dug out and explored. I think this book pushes us in the right direction: in encourages us to have important dialogue and to hopefully take action.

I am actually attending virtual conference next month, Beyond 2020, and Doyle is one of the keynote speakers at it. I am eager to hear what she has learned since writing her book, and what she wants to dig deeper into herself. Either way, the dialogue should be interesting. I can always report back if you guys are interested!


2 replies »

  1. Great review Kelly. The book is getting high praise and I appreciate you breaking down the pros and cons.

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