Love is something we are all constantly learning how to do better. It is a running theme in all of our lives and in every story we tell. It is an emotion that fulfills us, inspires us, excites us, brings us joy, makes us believe, belittles us, confuses us, haunts us, enrages us, hurts us and the list goes on. In the book, “I Love You And I’m Leaving You Anyway,” the brilliant author, Tracy McMillian, takes you on an unforgettable journey through her life, tracing her choices with love back to her father. “Alternating between the nice guys she knew she should want, and the unavailable men who were compelling, Tracy found herself repeating the hurt that began when the man who loved her the most, her father, left her for prison when she was just three years old. Freddie’s absence meant a childhood filled with foster homes, a temperamental stepmother, and near constant upheaval. It took three marriages, the birth of a son, and, most important, resolving her relationship with her dad for Tracy to discover the truth about herself — a truth that finally set her free.”

To say I had trouble putting this book down would be putting it mildly. I found myself enthralled and intoxicated by her story. Her voice and the truth that comes from it is nothing less than remarkable. I haven’t read a book that kept me this entranced since I read “A Million Little Pieces” by author James Frey. It made me grateful to all the writers who have the courage to really go to the deepest and darkest places while managing to make us laugh and learn along the way. It is a true gift.

Universal themes are covered throughout this book. Our stories are all so different but the emotions we feel as a result of them are often the same. McMillan writes, “You have just laid eyes on a man who is going to trigger every single childhood wound you have, who is going to bring those wounds to the surface, and who will, in the process, bring you to your knees, all for the purpose of healing.” We all identify with what love brings up in us. Tracy goes on to write, “It’s like I have two opposing parts of myself: one that nurtures, and one that destroys.” Further down the same page, she writes, “I’m just like my own mother — except with a husband, a house, and a college degree. It’s gotten to the point I don’t want to do anything else without getting high first.” These scenarios and others she explores all have to do with love, what happens when we’re loved, what happens after we love, and what happens after we leave or after we’re left.

Healing is what inspires us to love again. In this book, after every heartbreaking experience, we see Tracy get stronger and grow deeper in her self-awareness of life and love. It encourages all of us to do the same. In a scene when Tracy brings her son to prison to meet her father, she writes, “It’s like together we are one of those medical books where when you lay each page over the next, you get a picture of one whole body, with all of the insides. Me, my dad, my son — we’re all one.” As I read, I wanted to get to the end of the book quickly because I wanted to know her story, yet, I knew when I got to the last page, I would be sad to put it down. I was right.