Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review: Love in Abundance, a Counselor's Advice on Open Relationships

Love in Abundance: A Counselor's Advice on Open Relationships by Kathy Labriola published by Greenery Press is a fairly concise book on solving conflicts and dealing with problems in polyamorous relationships. While this is not one of my favorite books on polyamory, the title has much to offer readers.

The good:

Overall the book is very accessible for readers. It is a manageable 192 pages and the book is broken into five parts for easy navigation. A whole section is devoted to managing jealousy and there are some specialty chapters that deal with feminism and BDSM. The author brings up many conflicts that can develop in polyamorous relationships and asks many difficult questions. I commend the author for bringing up so many raw situations and addressing difficult questions. The chapter on jealousy was useful and I appreciate the down-to-earth view the book promotes.

The bad:

Parts of the book felt rushed or incomplete. The narration felt a little rough, probably because the author’s voice is at times blunt and straightforward. The author uses examples to illustrate her points (IE: Dan and Joan are in an open relationship but Joan feels jealous about…), but a lot of them are somewhat cheesetastic. There are some things the author talks about, like sex addiction or the definition of “open relationship,” that should be researched beyond the text of the book as these are controversial and you may find you have a different view than the author. 

My central issue with the book is that it focuses on conflicts and problems in polyamory. While the author acknowledges this (she is a counselor, after all) I feel this book should be targeted more to people in established open relationships rather than as a more general guide book. While the book doesn’t say “guide” in the title, the first parts of the book include talking about what open relationships are and how they work. I feel the book ultimately becomes stuck in the middle: explaining things people in polyamorous relationships already know but bringing up conflicts that beginners won’t be able to readily relate to. Therefore, I would recommend reading this book after you have explored other resources on polyamory or open relationships.

I wouldn’t recommend this be the first book you pick up on polyamory, however, I can’t discount the important questions the author raises and the guidance she gives for solving these issues. They are very important and some are not raised in other polyamorous resources I've seen. The solutions won’t work for everyone, but it’s a decent place to begin.

Though not perfect, the book does offer an outlet to discuss open relationships and self-awareness. And the naked folks frolicking on the cover is a nice touch.

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