Faith, Failure, and Finding Solid Ground

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Pub Date 05 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 29 Mar 2022

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When Laura Whitfield was fourteen, her extraordinary brother, Lawrence, was killed in a mountain climbing accident. That night she had an epiphany: Life is short. Dream big, even if it means taking risks. So, after graduating from high school, she set out on her own, prepared to do just that.

Laura spent her first summer after high school on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a magical few months filled with friendships, boys, and beer. There she met a handsome DJ who everyone called “Steve the Dream,” and risked her heart. When September came, Steve moved to New York City to become a model —prompting Laura to start thinking about modeling, too. After just one semester of college, still seeking to fill the void left by her brother’s death, she dropped out and moved to New York to become a cover girl. But while juggling the demands of life in the big city—waiting tables, failed relationships, and the cutthroat world of modeling—she lost her way.

A stirring memoir about a young woman’s quest to find hope and stability after devastating loss, Untethered is Laura’s story of overcoming shame, embracing faith, and learning that taking risks—and failing—can lead to a bigger life than you've ever dared to imagine.

When Laura Whitfield was fourteen, her extraordinary brother, Lawrence, was killed in a mountain climbing accident. That night she had an epiphany: Life is short. Dream big, even if it means taking...

Advance Praise

“When life falls apart, it's easy to assume you're alone in your suffering. Or worse, that you're stuck there. Untethered is a haunting exploration of life's disorienting darkness, punctuated by lightning strikes of hope. Laura forces readers to confront the vulnerability of being human while offering a rousing call to more abundant life. If you've ever felt blindsided by disappointment and disillusionment, Laura's journey of faith amid failure is not to be missed. Highly recommend!”

—Jonathan Merritt, contributing writer for The Atlantic and author of Learning to Speak God from Scratch

“Untethered is a breathtaking glimpse into the unraveling of a life after death. With winsome prose, Whitfield's poignant coming-of-age narrative takes the reader on a journey of what happens when we come undone. This is a timely memoir of loss, sex, beauty, family, and the courage it takes to regain our footing amid chaos.”

—J. Dana Trent, author of Dessert First: Preparing for Death While Savoring Life 

“Untethered is an exciting journey of a dynamic woman—and while it represents her life, there are so many moments of ‘oh, I know that feeling’ that she could be writing about me and my life, only with different names! So many of us have gone through the journey of finding ourselves while thinking it takes a man to get there; Whitfield’s story shows us that we need ourselves to find ourselves—and along the way, we might also find love. A great read for women of all ages.”

—Jen Oleniczak Brown, founder of The Engaging Educator and author of Think On Your Feet

“Whitfield's memoir is an engrossing coming-of-age tale. Marked by deep grief and aspiration, broken relationships and restoration, her story moves from a quiet beginning in North Carolina, to New York City and back again, all in pursuit of a defined sense of self. In her generous telling, Whitfield reminds us that humility, grace, and deep gratitude can yield the richest rewards, and that this life's greatest fulfillment comes in relationship with others.”

—Rebecca Brewster Stevenson, author of Healing Maddie Brees and Wait

“With radiant honesty, Whitfield tells the story of losing her beloved brother, which set her on a quest to find emotional and spiritual sanctuary. We follow her wild years in the Outer Banks, New York City, and Chapel Hill, where she seeks solace in men, jobs, and her writing. What she must learn is how to find a way ‘for my faith and my life to line up.’ Whitfield’s frank, vibrant memoir reads with the page-turning urgency of a novel you can’t put down. Fans of Mary Karr’s Lit and Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies will want to read this book.”

—Marianne Gingher, Professor of English and Creative Writing, UNC, and author of A Girl’s Life and Adventures in Pen Land

“Untethered is a page-turning read for anyone who has dared to follow a dream, suffered tragic loss, and longed for redemption.”

—Michael Morris, author of A Place Called Wiregrass, Slow Way Home and Man in the Blue Moon

“It's not easy to reach into our darkest truths. In Untethered, Whitfield takes the deep dive into faith, family, love, loss, and the longing to find oneself.”

—Cheryl Sharp, CEO of Sharp Change Consulting and former head of National Council for Behavioral Health's Trauma-Informed Care initiative

“When life falls apart, it's easy to assume you're alone in your suffering. Or worse, that you're stuck there. Untethered is a haunting exploration of life's disorienting darkness, punctuated by...

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ISBN 9781647422219
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Featured Reviews

TW: Sibling loss

This one hit the core, I read it in one sitting and I am still thinking about it now.

We all lose our way and it's so lovely to read how others also stumble and find their way back onto their path. After losing her brother in a mountain climbing accident, Laura decides that "Life is short. Dream big, even if it means taking risks" and does many things to try and fill the void left by her brother.

Writing style was A+ and I enjoyed how she told her story.

Thank you to NetGalley and She Writes Press for this ARC. All opinions are my own.

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If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything…

The mention of modeling immediately grabbed my attention as ‘n have a close friend who recently entered the world of modeling. I feared an ugly narrative about drugs, eating disorders and the willingness to sell your soul for success. Ms Whitfield’s path took her dangerously close to these, but what she encountered is more universal.

Ms Whitfield takes us on an intimate journey of her life. She honestly shares her grief over her brother’s death and her road to validation and, ultimately, to self-discovery and affirmation of her faith. At no point does she try to shift the blame for her actions. No, she stands tall and owns her mistakes. The details might be different, but her road is one shared by many, especially young women.

The writing is no-nonsense and flows beautifully. Once I reached the point where she goes off to college, I could not put the book down. I just had to know what happened next. After I finished, it felt like a dear friend visited with me for a bit and shared her life with me…

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What a wonderful joy to be able to read someone’s own reflections on their life without a sense of being sold something or hearing a justification for their mistakes.

The writing is poetic at times; full of colour and references to the time of year events happened. Free from entitlement and a self conscious perspective, it is a memoir to her family and friends.

It took a while for Laura to build bridges and learn her lines but she was always a loyal friend and supportive family person, reflecting the love she herself mostly received.

One of the best “life stories” I have read; no room for mixed messages. A life lived well, but not without cost.

No celebration or celebrity. Just a honesty that puts me to shame for always putting my best self forward but never revealing the real me.

I hope Laura’s approach to life and her candour helps others to be more truthful and recognise that God’s promises are faithfully sure. We can be slow to forgive ourselves, stagnant in life seeking the forgiveness of others feeling they would judge us badly.

A stimulating and interesting read. A life full of promise, overlaid by an imperfect past. A sense of repeating failure but within, a spirit of survival, progression and value.
Like a prodigal son who comes to his senses
but is unable to avoid further misfortune.
Never beyond a Father's love.
Unlike the prodigal has a range of friends and
family who never separated her from the love of God.

This not a sentimental journey through her life but a honest resumé. This is not a life to judge or measure ourselves against but a well written account of what it means to be human.
A book waiting to be read to shine a light on our own darkest secrets we seldom acknowledge and never disclose.

But Laura, Laura, you put down your pen too soon. A subtle tease leaving the reader to want more.

Whether more pain has to be shared or the frailty of good intentions. Broken promises or shattered dreams we are keen to share your journey more so than ever. Please let us know you’ve started and finished the reflections of motherhood and work life balance - we want more.

It appears you are in a blessed place; this book is an extension of your ministry, self awareness and honesty reflecting God’s love and faithfulness.

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A really interesting read that is well written and draws you in. Laura's writing makes you feel like you are talking to a friend and genuinely having a conversation. The writing is honest and raw and I liked how Laura doesn't glamourise the modelling industry. She is transparent about her career, her pain, her family and everything. It's a really insightful read that I'd definitely recommend

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I was so captivated by this book by Laura. I have to admit that I was starting to get annoyed that she made the same mistake over and over again, but then the Lord touched my heart and reminded me that they who are forgiven much love much. I was reminded, through her book, that the Lord is a Lord of Grace and Mercy. I love how this book is not like most Christian Biographies or Autobiographies where the person is perfect after they come to know Jesus. That is not true to how the Christian walk is. It is said that we will not be delivered from all sin until we meet Jesus when we go home to heaven. In our earthly life, we have struggles with sin and need to daily repent when we fall short. By the time I finished this book, I was so thankful for it. It, like I said before, reminds us of what a loving God we serve.

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This was the first memoir I’ve read in a LONG time. It was a very nice book to read though. I’ve never read any of Laura Whitfields books before, so to request this book from netgalley was very strange, but the title drew me in. And I’m glad it did

This is a memoir on Laura Whitfields life. Beginning as a worker at a shop in the Outer Banks, moving to New York for modeling, marriage and divorce, and eventually remarried Drew and having twins. This book was an amazing book. The first chapter had me bawling after the death of her brother Lawrence, I cannot imagine what it’d feel like to lose a sibling like that. It’d be extremely heartbreaking and Laura is very strong for that.

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Laura Whitfield shares her life journey as if she were a new close friend. Her journey both in modeling and in her faith is one where you want to keep turning the page. She writes with full transparency and humility and does not glamorize the modeling business at all. Her relationships with her parents seems reminiscent of the era she grew up in and resonated with me. For those who have traveled through the rough patches of life you will find a kindred spirit in Laura.

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From the authors mourning her brothers death an adventurous young man who died in a tragic climbing accident to the sharing of her life.Her modelingcromances divorce then marriage to Drew and twins.I really enjoyed watching her climb out of the grief for her brother and embark on her adventures.#netgalley #untethered.

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