Book Review: Braving the Wilderness

Brown, Brené. Braving the wilderness : the quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone. Random House, 2017.

book cover imageDivisions seem to define the current cultural moment for many of us. Instead of seeing each other’s similarities, we focus on the ways in which we are different. This skewed focus leads to loneliness and a lack of interpersonal connection. People are seeking answers in an effort to heal the pain caused by this unhappiness.

In her new book, Braving the Wilderness, author Brené Brown tackles this tough issue with clear advice and surprising suggestions. In this follow-up to her bestselling Rising Strong and Daring Greatly, Brown points to the idea of true belonging as the solution to creating lasting relationships with others. She defines true belonging as being consistently true to who you are, your values, and your beliefs, even when it is difficult to do so and you find yourself standing alone. She further describes this paradox using the framework of a Maya Angelou quote: “You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all.” Occupying this place of true belonging, in which you are authentic even when it creates discomfort, brings one into what Brown calls “the wilderness”: a place that is unforgiving yet sacred, dangerous yet breathtaking.

With the destination defined, Brown gives the reader the tools to reach the wilderness where true belonging lies through her BRAVING acronym: boundaries, reliability, accountability, vault, integrity, non-judgment, and generosity. These seven elements of trust are the keys for a person to find both true belonging with themselves and to foster authentic connection with others that can not only withstand, but dismantle, the barriers that make us feel isolated from one another.

Through clear writing, relatable personal anecdotes, and pertinent research data, Braving the Wilderness guides the reader through difficult terrain with grace. However, it stops short of diving into the underlying causes of our cultural divisions. Readers of Brown’s previous works will also find some data reused in this concise and approachable introduction to authenticity and self-trust in troubled times.

Braving the Wilderness is also available as an eBook on OverDrive, an audiobook on OverDrive, and on Notable Business Books Kindles at the Ford Library.


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