At some point in our lives, most of us have that moment where we realize that it’s not going the way we thought it would. Maybe it’s when we realize that there is no Prince Charming, or that wolves can be good providers as well as daring scoundrels, or even when we lose someone dear to us, too soon. That moment comes and we have a choice: suck it up, or drop out.

This is Not the Life I Ordered is a multifunctional, multi-purposed book. Each general topic (“Managing Misfortune,” “Learning to Love the ‘Oops’,” Understanding Money,” etc.) sections collect quotes and thoughts about various aspects of the process of living. A good number of these entries are real life stories. In these excerpts, the four authors illustrate that they have seen their share of life challenges, changes, reevaluations, and growth. These narrative are exceptionally opens and honest.  
Where the book stands out, however, is the WIT Kit that the reader builds by doing exercises (often journal writing on specific topics) found at the end of each chapter. WIT stands for Women in Transition and is a group of women who are willing to support each other through the good and the bad. It is a place where you are expected to be completely honest and willing to grow.

The authors have been divorced, widowed, left without money or a home, fired, lost elections, etc. etc. As Marlene Dietrich once said, "It is the friends you call at 4 o'clock in the morning that really matter." These women are those friends for each other. The book itself is really good. I found it a bit shallow (there’s a lot of empty space and short quotes) and really wanted more examples and more discussion of possibilities. Then again, the point is more that I should figure the possibilities out for myself. In which case, they succeeded.

This is Not the Life I Ordered is not a book of answers, but beginner techniques for finding those answers, and a healthy (supporting) dollop of humor, and hope.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Authors: Deborah Collins, Michealene Cristini Risley, Jackie Speier, and Jan Yanehiro

Conari Press, 2007

pp. 220, $19.95 (hardcover)