20. A debut novel: The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting by Alanna Okun
List Progress: 1/30
The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting had three things going for it to guarantee it would catch my eye:
1. I am a crafter (crochet and cross-stitch) who loves to talk about crafting.
2. I have always found the idea of the “Boyfriend Sweater Curse” (that if you knit a sweater for your boyfriend, the relationship is doomed) fascinating.
3. The author, Alanna Okun, has my relatively rare first name that I almost never see in the wild, at least not spelled the same way as mine.
So really, I had no choice but to read this book. And for a nice, cozy start to my year of reading, I’m glad I did.
The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater is a collection of autobiographical essays detailing Okun’s relationship to her own crafts of choice (knitting and embroidery) and how they have influenced and interacted with her personal relationships and path in life. If you are a millennial woman with a crafting passion, anxiety, a burgeoning authorial career, a hair-plucking habit, a family history of mental illness, a history with New York City, and the first name “Alanna”, it is bound to resonate a lot. (Seriously, it was kind of spooky how much I have in common with Alanna Okun.) If you’re anyone outside of those demographics, I’m not so sure. Okun’s writing is so personal and specific that I’ve seen reviews where readers were disappointed that the book was not a deeper dive into crafter culture. I can certainly understand that frustration, and I would love to see a book that dives into the knitting world in greater depth, but I enjoyed The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater for what it is. It very much feels like a debut novel, like these were the stories that Okun had to tell right off the bat for herself, even if they might not appeal to all people.
Nothing in here was mind-blowing, but not everything has to be. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear someone’s fairly eloquent thoughts on yarn and their relationship with their sister.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, if you’re a crafter. I’m not sure if this book would serve as a good introduction if you don’t already have some sort of crafter background.