Book Reviews

Book Review: Navigating Life by Margaux Bergen



This book was reviewed via Netgalley


This book is a visceral look at the trials and tribulations, the celebrations and exultations of one life, and the lessons learned along the way, distilled in the pelican of soul and body, a precious written elixir to aid the ongoing alchemy of others. Written first, and foremost, mother to eldest daughter, Navigating Life by Margaux Bergen has much to teach any who read it.


I absolutely devoured this book. It’s writ in a witty, engaging style that captures, and keeps, the attention, forcing one to reevaluate their own life, and serves to jump start their own introspection. I found the whole concept fascinating, and something to consider. I can articulate in writing like I never will in speech. These are candid discourses from a mother to her daughter. There’s a level of intimacy there that I envy. I wish I could have that with my mother, written or otherwise…but where I strive to be open-minded, she is closed, and vice versa. Que sera, sera.


As I’ve read through this, I catch myself wondering what lessons I would share, what focus. The author has a great deal of focus on sociological matters. Given the values expressed, and jobs held, this makes sense. Mine, I think, would focus on issues anthropological. A tolerance for diverse cultures. A deep and abiding respect for the archaeological legacy of our ancestors, and the lessons good and bad to be learned there.


This book is separated into several broad categories: Learning, Conversation, Work, Blood Greed, Home, Relationships, My Way, Your Way. Each category wanders through different aspects, and is filled with anecdotes, facts, stories, philosophy, and above all, useful guidance.


The section on Blood Greed fascinated me the most. It really is a condensed little guide to spiritual alchemy, though not discussed in those terms. At another place, the author is discussing her dying father, and expressing concern that the instability of his life might be hidden in her. “I fear his legacy. Does his rot linger in me?” That hit me so hard, as I often wonder about the glitches in my parents’ personalities expressing themselves in me. We all have biological tendencies/predispositions from our parents. We also have the legacy of inculcated behaviours, passed down til a perceptive person says ‘No!’ and breaks the cycle. I feared relationships because I didn’t want to be either of my parents. But recognising it helped to break it.


This is followed by the author’s remembrances of her father’s passing, and how what was most mourned was that her father didn’t love her. I feel that, so deeply. I loved how open she was about it, revealing such thoughts to her daughter, and now to the world. That’s a special sort of courage, to be so openly vulnerable.


There is one part, near the beginning, that is a poem written by the daughter. I think italics would help, just to demarcate from the rest of the text. It begins ‘I left dear kindergarten’, and comes a paragraph away from the first mentioning that the poem had been written. At first it seemed a bizarrely incongruous break from the thread of the section, with tone and style changing abruptly.


????? Highly recommended

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