The gift of relying on others

Briallen Hopper develops an alternative to the twin American creeds of self-reliance and marriage.

This is the year when most of my classmates are turning 40. So many of my friends were born in 1979 that I see someone marking the occasion on my Facebook feed almost every day. So perhaps it’s no surprise that I found Hard to Love easy to love and hard to put down.

Briallen Hopper covers much familiar ground for readers navigating these years of our lives. She writes from her own experience about learning to rise to the occasion in times of crisis, facing illness, wondering about relationships and fertility, confronting mortality, and living with housemates. Several of the essays seemed like extensions of conversations I’d recently had with people I love.

Certainly part of what drew me into the book was what attracted the author to the TV show Cheers: seeing “characters my own age navigate this at once belated and premature period between youth and midlife, in which you are supposed to have checked off some or all the boxes of adulthood.” Life no longer supports the illusion that we’re not really adults yet. When Hopper writes about being “mistaken for a potential homeowner,” she captures the financial precarity that characterizes adulthood for many in my generation thanks to factors like student debt and unaffordable housing.