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Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing: Essays

by Lauren Hough

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25815104,323 (4.03)3
"As an adult, Lauren Hough has had many identities: an airman in the U.S. Air Force, a cable guy, a bouncer at a gay club. As a child, however, she had none. Growing up as a member of the infamous cult The Children of God, Hough had her own self robbed from her. The cult took her all over the globe-to Germany, Japan, Texas, Chile-but it wasn't until she finally left for good that Lauren understood she could have a life beyond "The Family." Along the way, she's loaded up her car and started over, trading one life for the next. She's taken pilgrimages to the sights of her youth, been kept in solitary confinement, dated a lot of women, dabbled in drugs, and eventually found herself as what she always wanted to be: a writer. Here, as she sweeps through the underbelly of America-relying on friends, family, and strangers alike-she begins to excavate a new identity even as her past continues to trail her and color her world, relationships, and perceptions of self. At once razor-sharp, profoundly brave, and often very, very funny, the essays in Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing interrogate our notions of ecstasy, queerness, and what it means to live freely. Each piece is a reckoning: of survival, identity, and how to reclaim one's past when carving out a future"--… (more)
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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Gorgeous, tart, and maybe the best cult baby memoir I've ever read. ( )
  EveEttinger | Dec 31, 2023 |
Incredible writing. I've been captivated since I read her "I Was a Cable Guy" a few years ago, and the book does not disappoint. ( )
  LizzK | Dec 8, 2023 |
Amazing collection of short stories. This is a worthy read for those unfortunate enough to start this journey through life with a bad deck of cards. For those those who have experienced encounters with humanity's darker forces at the hands of organized cults and religion, this worthy read if for you. ( )
  titoCA321 | Aug 21, 2023 |
I picked this up because I am obsessed with books about people who were in cults. This is way more than that. It is heartbreaking with bits of humor. It is so well written. Pick this book up. ( )
  bsuff | Apr 6, 2023 |
Uhh so clearly I'm missing something here, idk the controversy behind the author and I can't find anything on Google about it, but that's fine because I don't even know how to rate the book anyway. Like, a lot of it was repetitive and I wish it were more of a traditional memoir instead of somewhat repetitive essays. But also I liked a lot of it.
  ninagl | Jan 7, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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Dedication
For my grandmothers, Nell and Barbara
First words
If you ask me where I'm from, I'll lie to you.
Quotations
There are few codes held more deeply among the poor, the religious, and the uneducated than that it is good and healthy and wholesome parenting to hit your kids. That their kids grow up with anger-management issues, who like hitting almost as much as they like getting hit, is not taken as evidence that maybe they're wrong here. Its right there in the Bible: "Spare the rod, and spoil the child." The Bible also says, "Violence begets violence." But the Bible says a lot of dumb shit.
People describe falling in love as meeting someone who they feel like they've known all their lives. Someone who understands them immediately. To me, that seems more like a nightmare than a fantasy. I always thought love meant the process of discovery, the work to understand someone. I want to know what it feels like when someone tries to figure me out, and keeps trying. I want someone to ask the questions and listen to the answers. I want to be studied the way I study others and learned the way I learn them.
I told him it would be a week, seven to ten days to get a new line. He said through his teeth he needed an exact day. I gave him my supervisor's number. This whole time, his wife was in the kitchen wiping a clean counter.

I was filling out the work orders and emailing my supervisor to give him a heads-up on a possible call from a member of every cable tech's favorite rage cult when his wife knocked on my van window. She stepped back and called me "ma'am." Which was nice. Her husband with the tucked-in polo shirt had asked my name and I told him Lauren. He heard Lawrence because it fit what he saw and asked if he could call me Larry. Guys like that use your name as a weapon. "Larry, explain to me why I had to sit around here from one to three waiting on you and you show up at 3:17. Does that seem like good customer service to you, Larry? And now you're telling me seven to ten days? Larry, I'm getting really tired of hearing this shit." Guys like that, it was safer to just let them think I was a man.

She said she was sorry about him. I said, "It's fine." I said there really wasn't anything I could do. She blinked back the flood of tears she'd been holding since god knows when. She said, "It's just, when he has Fox, he has Obama to hate. If he doesn't have that . . . " She kept looking over her shoulder. She was terrified of him. "I'm sorry," she said. "I just need him to have Fox." I got out of my van.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Contents: Author's Note -- Solitaire -- The Slide -- Badlands -- Speaking in Tongues -- Boys on the Side -- How to Make an Enemy -- Cell Block -- Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing -- Pet Snakes -- Cable Guy -- Everything That's Beautiful Breaks My Heart -- Acknowledgments

Some stories originally appeared, in slightly different form, in the following publications: "Cable Guy" as "I Was a Cable Guy. I Saw the Worst of America." in HuffPost (December 30, 2018); "Pet Snakes" as "My Drug Dealer's Snake" in Gay Magazine (May 16, 2019); and "Solitaire" in The Wrath-Bearing Tree (December 4, 2017 and January 1, 2018).
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"As an adult, Lauren Hough has had many identities: an airman in the U.S. Air Force, a cable guy, a bouncer at a gay club. As a child, however, she had none. Growing up as a member of the infamous cult The Children of God, Hough had her own self robbed from her. The cult took her all over the globe-to Germany, Japan, Texas, Chile-but it wasn't until she finally left for good that Lauren understood she could have a life beyond "The Family." Along the way, she's loaded up her car and started over, trading one life for the next. She's taken pilgrimages to the sights of her youth, been kept in solitary confinement, dated a lot of women, dabbled in drugs, and eventually found herself as what she always wanted to be: a writer. Here, as she sweeps through the underbelly of America-relying on friends, family, and strangers alike-she begins to excavate a new identity even as her past continues to trail her and color her world, relationships, and perceptions of self. At once razor-sharp, profoundly brave, and often very, very funny, the essays in Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing interrogate our notions of ecstasy, queerness, and what it means to live freely. Each piece is a reckoning: of survival, identity, and how to reclaim one's past when carving out a future"--

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