Book Reviews / Books

Group Book Review

02.07.21
Group Christie Tate Book Review

 

Group by Christie Tate was the last book I read in 2020 (I think). I was (as usual) browsing the shelves of Gertrude & Alice, unsure of what to read next, when I made my way over to pile of tomes that had been hand-picked for Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club – also known as the holy grail of publishing, and one of the easiest ways to guarantee mass sales of a title. Cited by some as the new high priestess of book clubs, there’s little doubt of the effect the Hollywood star’s stamp of approval can have on sales; Megan Miranda’s 10th novel, The Last House Guest sold 892 copies in the week prior to being picked for Reese’s Book Club; the week after, it sold 5,494. It was the day before I was heading to Byron Bay to see in the new year, and, given that I was planning on spending most of my time on the beach, I wanted an easy and addictive read, and so when I read the blurb of Group, it was an easy choice to buy it.

Group Book Review

I’ve always loved reading memoirs – Places I Stopped on the Way Home by Meg Fee, Wild by Cheryl Strayed and The Best of Us by Joyce Maynard are three of my all-time favourites – a penchant I think is down to the fact that I’m inherently interested in the lives of other people. While I adore novels – and will never tire of reading them – there’s something about a good memoir that often grabs my attention in a way that fiction sometimes doesn’t. And thus, it was no surprise that I found Group by Christie Tate a hard book to put down.

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A tale about therapy, about friendships, and about the intricacies of romantic relationships, Group is an engrossing and entertaining read about the healing power of Christie’s therapist, Dr Rosen, and how learning to trust those around her was the key to Tate’s own personal transformation.

I loved the Chicago setting and the colourful cast of characters; I loved Tate’s openness and often wry sense of humour, and I loved reading about Tate’s unconventional group therapy and its life-changing consequences.

An unputdownable book Told with honesty and wit as Tate navigates a path towards finding herself and human connection, Group was a brilliant book to end the 2020 on, and one that certainly makes for a riveting read. 

Group by Christie Tate Summary

Christie Tate had just been named the top student in her law school class and finally had her eating disorder under control. Why then was she driving through Chicago fantasizing about her own death? Why was she envisioning putting an end to the isolation and sadness that still plagued her in spite of her achievements?

Enter Dr. Rosen, a therapist who calmly assures her that if she joins one of his psychotherapy groups, he can transform her life. All she has to do is show up and be honest. About everything—her eating habits, childhood, sexual history, etc. Christie is skeptical, insisting that that she is defective, beyond cure. But Dr. Rosen issues a nine-word prescription that will change everything: “You don’t need a cure, you need a witness.

So begins her entry into the strange, terrifying, and ultimately life-changing world of group therapy. Christie is initially put off by Dr. Rosen’s outlandish directives, but as her defenses break down and she comes to trust Dr. Rosen and to depend on the sessions and the prescribed nightly phone calls with various group members, she begins to understand what it means to connect.

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Group is a deliciously addictive read, and with Christie as our guide—skeptical of her own capacity for connection and intimacy, but hopeful in spite of herself—we are given a front row seat to the daring, exhilarating, painful, and hilarious journey that is group therapy—an under-explored process that breaks you down, and then reassembles you so that all the pieces finally fit.

Christie Tate Author Bio

 Christie O. Tate is a Chicago-based writer and essayist.  Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Pithead Chapel, McSweeney’s, Motherwell, Entropy Magazine, A Perfect Wedding, Together.com, Brain, Child and others.  Her debut memoir, Group, published in October 2020 was a Reese’s Book Club Pick and New York Times bestseller.

Further reading

If you loved Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life by Christie Tate, you might also like one of Reese Witherspoon’s other addictive book club picks.

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