Bookends: A Memoir of Love, Loss & Literature by Zibby Owens #2022Books #BookReview #AmazonFirstReads #AudiobookReview #Memoir

Zibby Owens has become a well-known personality in the publishing world. Her infectious energy, tasteful authenticity, and smart, steadfast support of authors started in childhood, a precedent set by the profound effect books and libraries had on her own family.

But after losing her closest friend on 9/11 and later becoming utterly stressed out and overwhelmed by motherhood, Zibby was forgetting what made her her. She turned to books and writing for help.

Just when things seemed particularly bleak, Zibby unexpectedly fell in love with a tennis pro turned movie producer who showed her the path to happiness: away from type A perfectionism and toward “letting things unfold organically.” What “unfolded” was a meaningful career, a great love, and finally, her voice, now heard by millions of listeners.

I saw a feature on Zibby Owens when she was first promoting her book, Bookends (Amazon US $1.99 on Kindle) (Amazon UK) (AbeBooks) (, on CBS Sunday Morning this past summer. I was impressed enough that I looked up the book and saw it was an Amazon First Reads selection. I also bought the audiobook and finally got around to listening to it. The memoir is narrated by Owens herself.

The book started off promising enough, with Owens describing her privileged upbringing and the books she read during important parts of her childhood. However, there was no introspection on why or how those certain books made an impact on her life. In fact, I got the feeling that this memoir was not going to concentrate on books, and I was right.

Owens goes into great detail with some relationships, but not with others. There’s a point where she casually mentions that she had gotten married the year before and I was like, “WHAT? Where did that come from?” I knew at that point that she wasn’t going to be staying married to this guy, no way, not in the way he was totally disregarded. Turns out I was right, but Owens doesn’t even tell us she had gotten divorced until after she mentions the cute tennis pro she hooked up with. It’s unclear if this was before or after her divorce. So now she’s married to a tennis pro-turned movie producer. That makes sense in her world.

I totally understand wanting to shield her children from unwanted attention by even mentioning their names, but the only time she mentions them is when she’s complaining she doesn’t have time to spend with them because she and her new husband are headed to L.A. for a quick weekend getaway. Or the fact that she was put on bedrest with her twins and all she had to do was hire some help around the house. Owens doesn’t seem to realize that despite all her “hardships” that she’s mentioned, she is living the life of unrecognized privilege. When she mentioned she could get into Yale because she was a legacy but was wait-listed for Brown and how disappointing that was, I think, I was rolling my eyes.

Owens does suffer some tough times, like losing one of her best friends in the Twin Towers and the PTSD she suffered as a result. I’m not trying to diminish her loss, because each person processes grief differently. I’ve lost loved ones, from my father when I was 14, which just crushed me, to losing my mother this past year, and I handled each loss differently. So I get that, but I think part of the reason she had such a hard time processing her grief was because she really hadn’t gone through anything that bad in her life yet, not really.

Throughout the book, the author talks about her quest to become a published author, working first in publishing, then as a ghostwriter, and after she had kids she had some success with Moms Don’t Have Time To Read, which I actually loathe. I have four kids as well, four in six years, in fact, and I always found time to read or do many of the things she complains about not being able to do. With hired help like a nanny. She also spends a lot of time talking about her podcast, and I finally realized what this book was really about: it was about selling Zibby Owens, author, podcaster, divorced and happily remarried mom to four. She’s really Supermom, now everyone applaud. Please, I could write a memoir of love, loss and literature and actually have all the literature I’ve read tie into my life experiences, from Nancy Drew and Laura Ingalls Wilder to the books I’m reading today.

Occasionally, Owens offers up what books she was reading at a certain point in her life but no context on how these books affected her or why she felt the need to mention them, other than to fit the description of her book title. A better title would be White Privilege: How I Learned to Promote My Brand Through Publishing Because I Have Connections. As a memoir, the book works because it’s written all right, even if key details of her life were glossed over, but if you’re looking for an author’s connection to books, this isn’t it.

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