Author Caroline Myss had me at “defy,” the very first word in her book title. Defy the man. Defy the claustrophobic, robotic program we’re all living. Defy the ever-present earthly gravity that sucks the life out of us and relentlessly pulls down, down, down. Oh yes, defying gravity is definitely something I want to learn more about, and the call to read more about it was strong in me.
Combine this kind of extraordinary title magnetism with a stunningly gorgeous book cover, lots of A-list recommendations and the prospect of reading a book by a bestselling, influential spiritual author and you get a book that screams “buy me” in your face. But don’t buy it. It’s not worth the $24.95 that I shelled out for a hard cover copy. I wouldn’t even bother with the cheaper Kindle version.
Defy Gravity is a serious miss for Myss and is one of the most confusing spiritual books I’ve read in the last twelve months, maybe longer.
My review process typically involves a lot of underlining. This helps me to capture the author’s points and writing voice so that I can tell you about them. Unfortunately, too many of the underlined passages in Defy Gravity were followed by what? Or why? Or huh? A lot of this has to do with Myss’ writing style. For example, to make a point, Myss sometimes introduces two or three competing ideas into a short writing space at one time. This makes it hard to focus on what she’s trying to say and to follow along with her.
Also, instead of taking the time to fully develop her ideas, Myss often resorts to cliches, one-liners and you must do this or that commands. Who needs to hear, for example, that “what goes around comes around?” Hasn’t that already been said about a thousand times by others? And then there’s her tendency to fall into vague, new age speak. What does “you have to be willing to work with truths of cosmic proportions to accomplish such a profound transformation” actually mean? This book is littered with phrases that sound big, transcendental and important but that are unclear.
The other major problem with this book is content. Myss organizes the book into five truths. Then she talks about the seven shadow passions and the seven inner graces. Then she presents the four noble Buddhist truths. Then she introduces five mystical laws. Then she talks about the seven steps to defy illness. In between there’s talk about chakras and Buddha and Jesus, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila and other so-called mystics like Abe Lincoln.
Oh my goodness, it’s all too much. Way too much. Have you ever gone into someone’s house who doesn’t know when to stop decorating or buying things? That’s what it’s like to read this book. Nothing holds your attention because there’s too much going on. Myss makes a mighty try to pull it all together, but her recipe doesn’t work and the book doesn’t make cohesive sense. Personally, by the time I got to chapter four, I was ready to throw the book away, and I mean really throw it away – not recycle it to a library or anyone else. I only finished it for you.
I truly hope that Myss will try again with a simplified, deeper healing message that’s based exclusively on what’s real for her. Myss KNOWS about miracles from first-hand experience, miracles that defy gravity. She KNOWS about the importance of prayer, prayer that puts you in a transcendental zone. She KNOWS about the power of forgiveness, forgiveness that enables you to feel worthy of healing. She KNOWS we all need self-release from fear, fear that blocks the experience of self as Love. And she KNOWS a calm state of mind is not a little thing.