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All About Love: New Visions discusses the ways society traditionally views love and the roles it creates for love in our lives; but, the information is recycled and some of the perspectives are biased. The author , bell hooks, provides helpful information and personal stories, which describe how repeating incorrect patterns of behaviors lead to unhappiness. However, as opposed to other self-help books, many of her suggestions for living with more love, lack applicability. Perhaps most lingering, her feminist background gets in the way of her positive, loving message.

The author suggests definitions of love commonly held in society, which influence the ways we learn to love, are flawed. hooks points out that standard romantic or familial norms indicate that love is natural or a gift, when in reality giving and receiving love takes work. She uses M. Scott Peck’s definition as a guide, “Love is an act of will-namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice, We do not have to love. We choose to love.” (4-5) With this new description, the reader sees that love is about choices and effort. hooks asks the reader to consider how his or her life can be different by choosing instead of expecting love.

hooks wants people to individually and globally choose more love, which, despite several admirable suggestions, is difficult to implement in the real world. hooks uses her own past as an example of how she repeats incorrect behaviors she learned from her parents in her own life. She recommends recognizing old patterns, making the choice to change, and forgiving.  She more broadly, discusses the ways that individuals can change the world through love. She also recommends sacrificing money, job security and personal happiness for the betterment of others, society and world peace. But, none of this is practical. Most important, she fails to provide concrete information about how to achieve these goals. Finally, her message of love is clouded by her feminist views.

While most of the text asks the reader to love more, hooks gets carried away with insults and negativity in Chapter 3: Honesty: Be True to Love. hooks is famous for her feminist text, Feminism is for Everybody, in which she asserts just that-feminism is all inclusive and unbiased. But is it? Her chapter on honesty is a harsh rant about how men lie in relationships in order to keep power and maintain the patriarchy. Saying that “men” do this is as biased as saying all “women” think, do say, similar things, it’s incorrect, biased, judgmental. Accusing an entire group of people of dishonesty, especially for such a manipulative reason, certainly isn’t about seeing the best in people or choosing love.

hooks asks her reader to think about how his or her choices and actions related to love are influenced by the past and will make an impact in the present and future. She succeeds in making the reader think about love in his or her life. Actually making changes is always easier said than done. Nothing in this text is groundbreaking. In fact, any information that provides tangible examples to promote change and access is common sense or has already been covered in other texts. This is not bell hooks’s best work.


2.5 out of 5 stars