Books & Literature

Book Review: This Is Not a Love Song, by Amber Petty

MEMOIR: A memoir about mental health and love that intertwines the raw, personal soul-searching of a young woman with a ‘stranger-than-fiction’ psychological thriller.

A funny and moving ode to self-love.

The witty, relatable, and loveable voice of Amber Petty shines through in her memoir This Is Not a Love Song. This collection of memories focuses on love and mental health, two themes that have been prevalent in Amber’s life so far. 

From her experience in the music industry to her time as a radio host, with stretches as a magazine columnist, royal bridesmaid, and reality TV star in between, Amber details the roller coaster that her life has been with humour. Using the power of hindsight, she also approaches her memories through the lens of someone who has learned a lot of hard lessons. Thus the reader has the chance to witness Amber bloom from a bullied schoolgirl into a woman who finally knows her value.

Despite being packed with detail, this is a very quick read. The author’s memories give us a glimpse into some super-exciting times, detailing romances abroad, behind the scenes of radio and magazine life, and of course, the wedding of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, for whom Amber was a bridesmaid. Other recollections were truly moving, particularly those that explored Amber’s relationship with her father. Chapters that recalled some of the harder times in Amber’s life, particularly one scene recalling the domestic violence she endured, brought me to tears.  

Amber remembers the “Gotcha” call scandal in great detail, which might be confusing to readers who are not already familiar with what happened. But once the truth is revealed, it’s difficult not to feel terrible for the author for what she went through.

Throughout the book, there’s the recurring sense of Amber being lost and trying to find her place, whether that’s with a partner or in a job. Her voice is endearing to readers—particularly women—who feel like they’re in a similar situation. This memoir will touch those who feel immense pressure to have their lives together, who were told that there’s only one definition of success, and who keep attracting the wrong type of partner. It will remind them that they’re not alone.

Although Amber’s narrative voice is self-deprecating and she so often describes herself as a mess, I found her to be an inspiring figure. The way she continues to bounce back after every dark chapter in her life makes resistance one of the major themes of this book, and proves that the author is oozing with strength. 

This Is Not a Love Song definitely isn’t a love song. But it is other things. It’s an exploration of how the patterns we learn in childhood can come back to haunt us. It’s a reminder to take our mental health seriously, trust our intuition, and empower ourselves. Above all, it’s an ode to self-love. 

Amber will be launching her book in Adelaide on Wednesday 23 June at The Lab, at 6:30 p.m. The event is free but numbers are limited, so be sure to RSVP here!

You can purchase the book from Amber’s website or from Booktopia as an eBook or paperback

Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Instagram: @vanessaellewrites

Published by: Brio Books
Released: 25 April 2021
RRP: $29.99

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