Totally Fine (and Other Lies I’ve Told Myself) by Tiffany Philippou

Published: March 17, 2022


Pages: 240

Genre: Memoir

KKECReads Rating: 3/5

I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

Tiffany Philippou is a writer and podcaster who lives in London, and her website has further information about her writing, podcast, newsletter, and social media. She co-hosts the work, life, and happiness podcast Is This Working? and it’s been described by The Guardian as ‘its look at mental health, productivity, and even loneliness feels increasingly vital.’ She previously spent over ten years working in leadership roles in startups, and in addition to her work as a writer and podcaster, Tiffany works as a consultant and recruiter for startups.

Do you have a story that you are scared to tell? A story that you’ve spent your life trying to escape. I’m going to tell you mine.

One day, in the summer of 2008, I was travelling back to London when I received a phone call that suddenly changed everything. I was told my boyfriend Richard was in hospital. He died seven days later. I spent most of my twenties pretending this never happened.

I was trapped within my own silence, left alone to absorb the discomfort, blame and judgement of others that I felt after Richard’s suicide. I was suffering, but telling everyone that I was totally fine. The shame consumed me and I desperately wanted to find love again, but the rejection and heartbreak that followed proved to me, yet again, that I wasn’t worthy of love and belonging.

In our twenties, we are thrown into the adult world without a guidebook. I experienced a turbulent decade with what felt like catastrophic failures. Then one day, I started to speak about my shame, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. And I’ve come to realise that shame is like a monster – one that can grow so large that it can hold us back from a life worth living. And that it is only by sharing our stories that we can give a voice to what is unspoken. A voice to the stories that we don’t want to tell.

So whatever pain you’re holding on to, whatever story you’re scared to tell, I’m writing this for you.

“Speaking shame is important because its survival depends on being undetected.”

Tiffany was living her life as a university student, with friends and her boyfriend. Then during a holiday, she receives the devastating news that changes her life. And she spends the next several years struggling, trying to figure out who she is, what she wants, and what life means.

This was not the type of memoir I thought it was. This was filled with a lot of stories and anecdotes of the things that have happened to Tiffany that had some impact on her life.

This book is more of a personal manifesto and less of a learn from her experience to process your own grief.

It took me a lot longer than it should have to finish this book. I found several of the stories dry and slightly self-indulgent.

I don’t doubt or discredit the weight of the grief that Tiffany experienced, but I didn’t find this memoir inspirational or motivational.

The best part was her letter she wishes she would have read at Richard’s funeral. To me, that felt like the most genuine thing she said.

Overall, it was an alright read for me. I am not excited about it, and I’m honestly happy to have finished so I can move on to something else.

One comment

  • I find that memoirs tend to fall into two categories, one is where the person or the subject has a wide reading audience attraction, for instance, it is about a famous person or something like a travel memoir. The other type of memoir is more personal to the writer, it is their life story and can have meaning to close family and friends who know them and have shared part of their journey, but it tends to have a narrow reading audience and like you found with this book, there is little for you to connect to.

Leave a Reply