A deeply validating manifesto on the gender politics of marriage (bad) and divorce (actually pretty good!) in America today, and an argument that the former needs a reboot—from journalist and proud divorcée Lyz Lenz
“This American Ex-Wife is a bomb, a bouquet (but not a wedding bouquet), a memoir, a manifesto, and a total joy to read.”—Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me
Studies show that nearly 70 percent of divorces are initiated by women—women who are tired, fed up, exhausted, and unhappy. We’ve all seen how the media portrays divorcées: sad, lonely, drowning their sorrows in a bottle of wine. Lyz Lenz is one such woman whose life fell apart after she reached a breaking point in her twelve-year marriage. But she refused to take part in that tired narrative and decided to flip the script on divorce.
In this exuberant and unapologetic book, Lenz makes an argument for the advantages of getting divorced, framing it as a practical and effective solution for women to take back the power they are owed. Weaving reportage with sociological research and literature with popular culture along with personal stories of coming together and breaking up, Lenz creates a kaleidoscopic and poignant portrait of American marriage today. She argues that the mechanisms of American power, justice, love, and gender equality remain deeply flawed, and that marriage, like any other cultural institution, is due for a reckoning. A raucous argument for acceptance, solidarity, and collective female refusal, This American Ex-Wife takes readers on a riveting ride—while pointing us all toward a life that is a little more free.
About the Author
Lyz Lenz is a journalist and the author of God Land and Belabored. She has written for Insider, The New York Times, Marie Claire, and The Washington Post. Lenz also writes the newsletter Men Yell at Me, about the intersection of politics and personhood in red-state America. She lives in Iowa with her two kids.
“With This American Ex-Wife Lenz adds to her already impressive canon of cultural criticism. . . . Through a vivid mix of research, reporting, and personal anecdote, [she] reveals the power imbalances inherent to traditional heterosexual marriage, and calls for a radical act of refusal by women who have been too-long defined by their relationships to men.”—Literary Hub
“This American Ex-Wife is a bomb, a bouquet (but not a wedding bouquet), a memoir, a manifesto, and a total joy to read.” —Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me
“A tour de force, instant classic memoir-meets-manifesto . . . Cishet love is a battlefield, and This American Ex-Wife is a long-awaited shield. This book will rightfully end and prevent certain types of marriages, by which I mean it will save lives.”—Alissa Nutting, author of Made for Love
“In this brave, brilliant, impeccably researched book, Lyz Lenz offers us a clear solution to the systemic inequalities within the institution of marriage. And it’s far more liberating than I ever imagined.” —Virginia Sole-Smith, author of Fat Talk
“Passionate, visceral, and honest, Lyz Lenz is an unflinching voice, and this book will stand as a monument within our most pressing issues today in how romantic intimacy and domestic labor intersect.”—Morgan Jerkins, author of Caul Baby
“Whether divorced, married, or single, all humans looking to reframe, rebuild, and reshape the institutions that have only ever served white men will find encouragement here. This is the most important book you’ll read this year, maybe even ever. Read it and get free.” —Rebecca Woolf, author of All of This
“It’s been more than fifty years since Muriel Rukeyser wrote, ‘What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.’ Now Lyz Lenz has written the truth about matrimony, and the result is similarly tectonic. I loved it.”—Laura Lippman, author of Prom Mom
“Lenz guides us to explode the dishonest fairy tales and shake off the suffocatingly gendered expectations around love, partnership, and domestic responsibility. This American Ex-Wife is a pleasure and an inspiration.”—Rebecca Traister, author of Good and Mad
“This American Ex-Wife is both validating and necessary.”—Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez, Financial journalist and creator of the Too Ambitious newsletter
“This American Ex-Wife is a lifeline. It is a counter-narrative. It is a beautiful piece of memoir. But most of all: it is a bold and convincing declaration that it doesn’t have to be this way. Quite frankly, it should be required pre-marital reading.”—Anne Helen Petersen, author of Out of Office
“Far from being a sign of failure, divorce, she argues persuasively, can be a source of liberation. . . . A well-researched, acerbic critique of a sacred institution.”—Kirkus Reviews