PolyAnna’a Musing: Opening Love Book Review

Recently I received an advance copy of  Dr. Anya’s book — Opening Love. I received no compensation for this review. This is my open and honest review of her book.

 

Opening Love is a wonderfully written book and reflection on polyamory, love, self reflection, and loving transitions. Throughout the book, I found myself nodding. Nodding because I had had similar experiences or because I would tell someone seeking and exploring poly exactly the same thing. (I likely have either in person or on my blog.)

 

One of the most amazing things about the polyamory movement or the poly people I have come to know, is that there is no one kind of person exploring polyamory and there is no generally accepted “right way.” There is no dogma and there are no hard and fast rules. Polyamory at its heart is about being who we authentically are, loving who we authentically love.

 

Opening Love fits right into that space. The first two chapters cover exactly that. Where polyamory fits and how many people who identifying as poly also identify as outside the norms they were raised with or amidst. For some people, the transition is easy, for others it is a tremendous struggle.

 

While so many parts of the book resonated with me, my favorite section, the section I wish I had had as I began my personal journey, is Chapter 2, specifically the section that discusses “no more normal.” The exercise a few pages later is what I wish I had had starting out. Giving myself permission to finally be me, was one of the hardest things I have done on my poly journey. I journaled intensely during that time, but the guided exercises in this chapter seem so obvious now, but back in the day, I would have benefited greatly having had them.

 

I will say, that this book does rely on Eastern Spirituality and many Buddhist principles. On the one hand they are gentle and loving lessons, philosophies and principles. While their root is squarely in those traditions, they have great crossover and are at their core compassionate and loving. I am not a practitioner of Buddhism, but as a devoted yoga practitioner, I found myself understanding these principles and applying them as I would a yoga teaching. You can take each up and examine them, if they fit, keep them, if not, don’t. The book is not dogmatic in the least, but rather encouraging and loving in its purpose, regardless of where you are on your spiritual journey or even if you identify as non-spiritual. Being compassionate and mindful occurs in so many contexts.

 

If Eastern philosophy is not your cup of tea, I still think this book would be helpful. It is one part recent memoir, one part compassionate guide, a flashlight, a what if prompt, and an academic beginners guide.

 

It is also reasonably short. You could read it with a partner in a weekend. You could read it in a week, reading only a short bit each night before bed, like I did.

 

Overall I think this book brings a fresh voice to the conversation. It is a path of loving gentleness, of forgiveness, of embracing the self. So often, in my position as community organizer and leader, I see people suffering. Transition from the de facto cultural norm of monogamy to polyamory, ethical non-monogamy, or somewhere in between, there can be so much judgement, internal and external. Dr. Anya takes up those questions and offers a glimpse at a path that is rooted in forgiveness, compassion, and love.

 

This is not a how to guide, but more of an exploration of academic text, philosophical principles, and first hand experiences, written in an accessible style.

 

Overall I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. I can see it being part of a series and I can see each chapter going deeper, sometimes I longed for that, but reminded myself, this was the opening of what is likely going to be an ongoing conversation. Not unlike what most of us a poly people come to understand, the journey is a lifelong one.

 

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