The XX Factor

DoubleX Book of the Week: It’s Hard Not to Hate You

There’s a lot of pressure on Americans generally, but women more specifically, to be outwardly positive and peppy. To smile and make nice. Barbara Ehrenreich wrote so brilliantly about this relentless insistence on upbeat thinking in her book Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America, and in her new memoir, It’s Hard Not to Hate You, Valerie Frankel addresses similar topics in more personal, funny way.

Frankel, a novelist and Snooki collaborator, was experiencing serious health issues when her doctor advised her to reduce the stress in her life. As a tonic, Frankel decides to stop being passive aggressive and start being aggressive aggressive—or at least very very assertive. She unleashes what she calls her “closet hater”: She stands up to acquaintances who ignore her, cops to her searing jealousy towards novelists who are more successful than she is, and rants about the “BFF parents” in her Brooklyn neighborhood who want to be their kids’ friends instead of enforcing sensible rules, and end up raising total brats.

By letting her hater flag fly, Frankel realizes that releasing the aggression is her own recipe for happiness. She might not be the most popular lady on the block, and she might burn a few bridges along the way, but as she says, “Better to know your enemies than twist into a pretzel trying to please all of the people all of the time.” This lively and entertaining book may not please all of the people, but it should be embraced by more than a few for its honesty and wit.