Synopses & Reviews
Searing and extremely personal essays, shot through with the darkest elements America can manifest, while discovering light and humor in unexpected corners.
As an adult, Lauren Hough has had many identities: an airman in the U.S. Air Force, a cable guy, a bouncer at a gay club. As a child, however, she had none. Growing up as a member of the infamous cult The Children of God, Hough had her own self robbed from her. The cult took her all over the globe — to Germany, Japan, Texas, Chile — but it wasn’t until she finally left for good that Lauren understood she could have a life beyond “The Family.”
Along the way, she’s loaded up her car and started over, trading one life for the next. She’s taken pilgrimages to the sights of her youth, been kept in solitary confinement, dated a lot of women, dabbled in drugs, and eventually found herself as what she always wanted to be: a writer. Here, as she sweeps through the underbelly of America — relying on friends, family, and strangers alike — she begins to excavate a new identity even as her past continues to trail her and color her world, relationships, and perceptions of self.
At once razor-sharp, profoundly brave, and often very, very funny, the essays in Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing interrogate our notions of ecstasy, queerness, and what it means to live freely. Each piece is a reckoning: of survival, identity, and how to reclaim one’s past when carving out a future.
[Hough] makes the ties between her own upbringing and the coltishness of American ideology explicit, but also opens up room for hope via small acts of resistance.” Ilana Masad, NPR
“A memoir in essays about so many things — growing up in an abusive cult, coming of age as a lesbian in the military, forced out by homophobia, living on the margins as a working class woman and what it’s like to grow into the person you are meant to be. Hough’s writing will break your heart.” Roxane Gay
“Hough’s conversational prose reads like the voice of a blues singer, taking breaks between songs to narrate her heartbreak in verse, cajoling her audience to laugh to keep from crying.” Leah Mirakhor, The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Lauren Hough was born in Germany and raised in seven countries and West Texas. She’s been an airman in the U.S. Air Force, a green-aproned barista, a bartender, a livery driver, and, for a time, a cable guy. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, The Guardian, and HuffPost. She lives in Austin.