Review: The Lonely Hunter by Aimee Lutkin

Posted July 29, 2022 by Angie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

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Review: The Lonely Hunter by Aimee LutkinThe Lonely Hunter: How Our Search for Love Is Broken: A Memoir by Aimee Lutkin
Published by Dial Books on February 8, 2022
Genres: Adult Nonfiction, LGBTQ
Format: eBook (316 pages)
Source: Library
Purchase: AmazonIndieBound
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In this crackling, incisive blend of memoir and cultural reporting, one woman's quest to answer the question When can I say I'll be alone forever? leads her to explore the unprecedented rise of single adults, our society's pathologizing of loneliness, and the purpose of dating.

One evening, thirtysomething single writer Aimee Lutkin found herself at a dinner party surrounded by couples. When the conversation turned to her love life, Lutkin--who had dated on and (mostly) off for years--stated simply, I don't really know if I'm going to date anyone ever again. Some people are just alone forever. As her friends rushed to assure her that love comes when you least expect it and to recommend new dating apps, Lutkin wondered, Why, when there are more unmarried adults than ever before, is there so much pressure to couple up? Why is everyone so uncomfortable around single people? Why does it seem like your real life can't start until you meet The One? And is it possible to be single without being lonely?

Over the course of the next year, Lutkin set out to answer these questions and to see whether there really was some trick for escaping loneliness out there. She went on hundreds of dates; read the sociologists, authors, and relationship experts exploring singlehood and loneliness; dove into the wellness industrial complex; tossed it all aside to binge-watch Netflix and eat nachos; and probed the capitalist structures that make alternative family arrangements nearly impossible.

Chock-full of razor-sharp observations and poignant moments of vulnerability, The Lonely Hunter is a stirring account of one woman's experience of being alone and a revealing expose of our culture's deep biases against the un-coupled. Blazingly smart, insightful, and full of heart, this is a book for anyone determined to make, follow, and break their own rules.

three-half-stars

The Lonely Hunter was not quite what I was expecting as the majority of the book is a memoir chronicling the author’s most recent dating history. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, or that it wasn’t interesting. But after the opening chapter where she announces that she’s just going to be single, much to the horror of her partnered-up friends, I was looking forward to her living her best life as a single person. She talks about how when people are lonely, everyone seems to believe the “cure” is to be in a couple. Why can’t friends, family, pets, community be enough? Why are sex and romance the only solution?

I’m not here to shame the author for dating (and enjoying it!) after making such an announcement to her friends, and later to the world via blog post. Just like she doesn’t think people should be shamed for not wanting to date or be in a long-term relationship. But it was a jarring departure from where I thought the book was going. Yes, the description mentions her dating, but it made it sound like it was part of some larger investigation about loneliness, which is not what it read like. It read like a memoir about dating in your thirties after having “given up” on finding the one. I wanted someone to stand in solidarity with that it’s perfectly fine to not seek marriage, 2.5 kids, or even cohabitation.

The Lonely Hunter does seem to get back on track in the final chapter where the author does start discussing how there are other ways to keep loneliness at bay, not just a romantic relationship. She also briefly mentions how community structures and policies favor married couples, and how these things need to change to be more supportive of single people. Then we can all thrive as a society and searching for love can be something people want to do rather than something they feel like they have to do. She does go on a rant about incels, who are bottom of the barrel scum of the Earth, and I feel like this derailed the point she was trying to make a bit. She brings up interesting points but never goes anywhere with them.

Despite the mismatched expectations, I did fully enjoy The Lonely Hunter for what it was. As a thirty-something with next-to-no dating experience, I found it comforting that the author went on plenty of successful dates after deciding to date again at 32. It felt good to know that it’s not impossible if I decide to make that choice. And that’s what it should be: a choice. Not some pressure placed on me by society to get matched up before I’m “too old.”

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