Conversations on Love By Natasha Lunn: nonfiction book review

Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn

Overview: Natasha Lunn explores every avenue she can think of where love comes into the picture. There are essays on dating, on being single, on being in bad relationships that you deeply wish were good. There are essays on marriage and partnership and standing by someone through massive life changes and grief. There are essays on the power of parental love and sibling love and an appreciation of family, if you were lucky enough to be blessed with a good one. There are essays on friendships, why they're so undervalued in society, and how we change that. And she does address the parts of love that we don't often talk about – how having loved usually means enduring pain or grief or loss. There are essays about losing parents and siblings and partners. She delves into the multifaceted loves that unfold parallel and the love that sometimes blossoms during grief. Lunn investigates grief in a deep, thorough manner that makes you think about the loves you're lucky to have and reevaluate your framing of the loves you might have yet to experience. Overall: 4.5 

This book makes so many "read this in your 20s" lists, and I can totally see why now. In a society that puts romantic love and partnership above all else, it's hard to remember that most of us have experienced at least one great love in life whether that is a romantic partner, through a family member, or with a friend. Love is all around, and it does not disappear, even after death. I feel like it opened my worldview around love even wider and gave me a deep sense of gratitude for the love I have gotten to experience rather than dwelling on love I haven't received. 

While the book starts out with essays about dating, being single, and finding romantic love like you'd expect in a book like this, the topics slowly expand in scope to bigger and bigger questions. This isn't a book about dating or romantic advice, and it does handle very heavy topics and grapple with death at the end. I am very sensitive and sometimes struggle with that particular topic, but I found that Lunn pulled together stories about loss and wrote the essays in a way that felt incredibly informative and helpful in grappling with my feelings on the subject. I will also note that from about the second section on, Lunn's miscarriage is often used as the frame story to talk about things like longterm partnerships, grief, and loss. If that is a triggering topic for you, I would encourage you to proceed with caution. 

The book is made better by being full of incredible writers lending their own experiences to the book. Lunn interviews a giant number of people that you can read about in the blurb, but getting so many different voices involved is definitely needed in a book like this. True to the title, their stories are often told in the format of an interview with Lunn with her asking questions and taking in the responses. Then, she'll often write a reflection on the conversation. I listened to the book on audio, and I was surprised to find that they seemingly had these different conversation partners record their own pieces of the story that were stitched into the audiobook. The change in voices did bring the conversations to life and almost made it feel like a very long podcast; though it was sometimes a little awkward because, while formatted like a conversation, it was clear everyone was reading their parts, so sometimes it came off sounding a little stilted like when you're popcorn reading in English class. 

My most striking takeaway from all the sections was an essay about family where the guest speaker reflected that her relationship with her mother was incredibly strong, and she'd always felt deeply loved by her. Though her dating life wasn't where she wanted it to be, she eventually came to the realization that she had been blessed with an important love, one not everyone gets the privilege to experience. This allowed her to reevaluate how she was spending her time and energy. So often, we don't hold these loves in the same light or context; putting them all in the same conversation makes it easier to appreciate what you do have. 

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