“I’ve discovered there’s genuine healing power in sharing your struggles. Accurately identifying what they are and where they came seems to take away their power.”
With her book, LaDonna Gatlin does just that. The author is the sister of the famous Gatlin Brothers country music group. The Song in You, which she wrote with the help of Mike Marino, is part memoir and part self-help guide.
A musician first and foremost, Gatlin shares her life lessons by using the solfège syllables of the major scale: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. In a musical pun, Gatlin and Marino make each of the two-letter terms the beginning of a lesson Gatlin has learned: Do the right thing. Realize your potential. Mind your manners. Failures can become fertilizer. Solutions begin with me. Laugh! Time is valuable — and back to do.
Gatlin begins the book by explaining what it was like growing up in her famous family. She says they led a “double life” as kids. They went to school, played sports, and led basically normal lives during the week and school year. But during the weekends and summers, the Gatlin family traveled the country performing concerts and recording music. After she was married, the author and her husband made the difficult decision to leave the very successful Gaitlin Quartet to start a family. This decision eventually led to the author’s career “reinvention” from successful country singer to mother and finally to a successful author and public speaker.
This first decision is where the author introduces readers to her first lesson: Do the right thing. This big lesson is then broken down into more manageable steps. Because the book is part memoir and part self-help guide, the chapters are quite lengthy. However, Gatlin and her co-author write in such an easy and conversational style that it never feels like the book drags on at all. It makes for an enjoyable read.
At one point, Gatlin goes into great detail disclosing her battle with major depression and her suicide attempt. I appreciated her honesty about this because I think that depression (and mental illness in general) is either not seriously discussed enough or is treated with a flippant attitude, as if it’s “no big deal.” In reality, depression is one of the most common mental health issue people face. Few people talk about it seriously, so it’s difficult for a person who is not affected by it to understand the mindset and/or actions of a depressed individual. More people need to speak honestly about it.
The Song in You continues to follow this step-by-step memoir and self-help format, and encourages readers to forge their own path and “sing the song God gave them.” Another thing I loved about this book is that Gatlin is a Christian and she makes no apologies for it. While this is not a typical “Christian book,” Gatlin refers several times to God, His plan for her life, and her overall faith. She manages to do this while still being inclusive of her readers and not sounding preachy, which I suspect readers will find refreshing.
One can also tell from reading her book that Gatlin is a positive person. Her words radiate with joy and positivity. Even when speaking of her depression, she ends in saying, in essence, that her pain has a purpose. Her positivity made the book a joy to read.
Despite that each chapter seems long, the book is relatively short. It’s an extremely easy and encouraging read. As a musician and a country and gospel music fan myself, the book especially appealed to me.
If you feel stuck, unfulfilled in your career or in life, or are just plain unsure where you fit or what you should be doing, I highly recommend this little book. Gatlin’s conversational and straightforward writing style makes the reader feel an intimacy with her story. Her infusions of honesty, humor, and faith make the book much more down-to-earth than other self-help texts. Simply put, The Song in You is a joyful reminder of why none of us should ever stop trying to find the melody in our souls. Never give up.
The Song in You: Finding Your Voice, Redefining Your Life
Health Communications, Inc., November, 2012
Paperback, 264 pages