This week I read “The Prayer: An Inspirational Journey to Miracles and Eternal Love” by Jacqueline von Zwehl. It was released a couple weeks ago by Johann Press. While the book was touted as an inspirational memoir, I was not inspired by it at all. In fact, most of it just seemed like a whole lot of first world problems.
“The Prayer” was von Zwehl’s own spiritual journey out of “hardship,” but it didn’t seem like her life was very difficult to begin with. Her father struggled with a gambling addiction, which caused her parents to fight, but it didn’t seem like her family was hurting for money. Von Zwehl went to NYU and Penn State, earning a Master’s degree and a pretty sweet job at IBM after she graduated. After she was laid off, she moved to Florida and did Bikram Yoga every day with her sister. The networking she had done while at IBM resulted in two offers for a new job.
For all of the wonderful things she had been blessed with, she complained that she was in her 30s and still hadn’t found a husband or had children. Eventually she found her “soul mate” and after two weeks of knowing him, they got engaged. He proposed by taking her to a fancy restaurant and having a solo violinist play for them at their table. They had a lavish wedding, and they went on a cruise for their honeymoon. When she was three months pregnant with her first child, her father died, which was really sad, but certainly not a “hardship.”
I guess it’s not fair to judge someone else’s tolerance for life crises, but I found it difficult to be inspired by von Zwehl’s story when I’ve heard of so many who have it worse than her. For example, early in the book one of her friends had confided that she had been raped by a family friend when she was six years old. After that chapter, von Zwehl never mentioned that friend again. I would have liked to know what happened to her, and how she managed to heal and move on after being abused.
Von Zwehl’s story seemed disingenuous as she whined while still being able to travel the world and receive three dozen roses as a birthday present from her husband. I would have recommended von Zwehl go to therapy and maybe get a part-time job or a hobby for her depression and loneliness, not go on a trip to Israel. While her life story was an okay read, it wasn’t impactful enough to warrant turning into a published book.
What books do you find inspiring and why?