Reviewed by Brooke Gagiero
Chidera Eggerue’s inspiring book How to Get Over a Boy is far more than a collection of your stock-standard relationship and breakup advice. Instead, it is a deeply introspective, inspiring and psychoanalytical discussion on the intersection of self-worth and romantic relationships, which challenges readers to hold themselves accountable for the ways in which they are complicit in, or reinforce, these turbulent relationships.
The book is split into three sections: ‘YOU’, ‘THEM’ and ‘US’, in which Eggerue breaks down her argument from three separate perspectives.
In ‘YOU’, Eggerue defines the difference between body acceptance and beauty acceptance, and the ways in which capitalism profits from women’s lack thereof. In critiquing this, she encourages the reader to assess the inception of their negative self-image and whom might be benefiting from their self-deprecation. She also explores the history of female sexual repression, and the ways that culture and colonisation continually restrict women from expressing their sexuality in the same way that men are conversely encouraged to. In this chapter, Eggerue presents a beautifully constructed argument which considers the intersectionality of women’s disempowerment, with a particular focus on her experience as a woman of colour. From here, Eggerue teaches readers about boundary setting, and encourages us to learn about how we wish to be loved in order to teach others how to love us. This includes discussion about love languages and styles of attachment, which are essential in establishing standards for the love we receive. The wonderful thing about this section is that Eggerue extends the importance of boundary setting beyond just romantic relationships. She talks about the importance of boundary setting and expectations in platonic and family relationships, and how these often set a precedent about the standard of love and respect we expect from romantic relationships. She reminds us that our standards are often intertwined with our self-worth, and when we work to appreciate our worth, our standards of love are raised.
Be ready for this section to feel somewhat confronting, as it teaches you to recognise the ways in which you may be complicit in depreciating your self-worth and continuing to entertain toxic relationships. However, this is not a reason to be put off! This section of the book is wonderful for encouraging reflection and critical thinking. One aspect I did find lacking was a diversity in her suggestions for self-help. In many cases, Eggerue suggests working in conjunction with a psychologist which, while an incredibly important resource, is often not financially viable for many people. However, this book is an excellent starting point for the work to begin, rather than an all-inclusive guide to self-improvement.
In the section ‘THEM’, Eggerue has one important message: “Stop trying to impress people, most of all him”. This section addresses male entitlement, co-dependency, and reclaiming individuality in, or after, a relationship. The reader is urged to reclaim their independence, analyse the extent to which their partner benefits them, and then set standards that facilitate mutual benefits from the partnership. This section would be great for readers currently in a relationship, who are open to improving or changing the dynamic. Relationships of co-dependency are discussed in detail, as well as ways to safely protect yourself if you are making the choice to leave them.
In the final section ‘US’, Eggerue discusses the importance of knowing your worth, and continually striving for growth by dismantling internalised misogyny and self-depreciation which does not serve you. The second two sections ‘THEM’ and ‘US’ were significantly shorter than the first one. This places a larger focus on the work that one must do on themselves, rather than on their partner or romantic relationship. This also reflects the lack of advice Eggurue has for readers who want to remain in their current relationships, so if this is you, be aware that you might not find the advice you are searching for in this book.
Readers should be aware that this novel is based on heterosexual dynamics, and therefore language and pronouns are often used with the assumption the reader is female. Undoubtedly, this has the effect of narrowing the audience with which the book may resonate. However, the book does discuss LGBTQI+ experiences in romance, focusing on how pop-culture can play a part in the normalisation of LGBTQI+ partnerships.
Overall, this is a really great book for readers who want to interrogate internal bias and cultural influences on romance, and the best part is that it is very reader friendly. While the book is around 200 pages long, the actual text is broken up with large, colourful graphics and illustrations, making it a lighter read and also very aesthetically pleasing. This makes it perfect for a reader who has trouble concentrating on long bodies of text. This book encourages the reader to undertake a journey of self-improvement, and is a great starting point for people who want to develop relationships that are deep and fulfilling!