“Not Exactly Love: A Memoir” by Betty Hafner

Genre:           MemoirNot Exactly Love
Publisher:    She Writes Press
Pub. Date:    Oct. 11, 2016


“Part memoir, part warm-hearted look at the ’70s, and part therapeutic journey “Not Exactly Love: A Memoir” is an intense and inspirational story of a woman who grew from her experience.” –Goodreads blurb.

It is the above book blurb that peaked my interest in wanting to read this book.  This memoir takes place in the early 1970s; a battered wife endures years of beatings without telling her family or friends.  Back then, very few women did. This was decades before the “Me Too” movement.  The author, Betty Hafner, wore a long-sleeve top on her wedding day to cover a bruise on her arm, along with her hippy gaucho pants that horrified her mother (if mom only knew the real horror of the day).  But they were young and there was no denying the chemistry between them, so she ignored the signs and married her young man in 1969.  This is certainly not a new story, what kept my attention is that Hafner had the courage to bare all her secrets, even during her therapy sessions, without shame.  She vividly describes the mental and physical abuse.  She does not shy away from her codependence in the relationship.  Hafner clearly wants her memoir to help other women while somehow still managing to keep a light touch when describing the decade.  This reviewer was a teen in those years.  I could identify with those times.   “I had rocketed from the June Cleaver’60s of my youth straight into the Age of Aquarius.”  That line alone brought me down memory lane.  While reading, I could hear Janice Joplin singing in my head.  Hafner does a stellar job in pairing nostalgia and laughter into her painfully honest story.  She manages to add in comic relief to give the reader a breather from the tension; while still managing to break the silence of domestic violence.

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