Good Enough Book Review + Interview with Author

Carly Newberg is an author I met through another writing friend back when I first heard about New Degree Press. She had her debut novel published with them, Good Enough: Believing Beautiful through Trauma, through Life, through Disorder.

Because it doesn’t matter how many times someone looks you in the eyes and tells you you’re beautiful, you have to believe it—and if you don’t—you have to keep fighting.

In Good Enough: Believing Beautiful through Trauma, through Life, through Disorder, author Carly Newberg reveals what it’s like to live with her monsters—the insidious voices inside her head that insist she isn’t worthy—and her journey toward overcoming them. Drawing on her Christian faith and authors such as Dr. Anita Johnston, Don Richard Riso, and Mark Nepo, Carly encourages readers to shed their masks and enter the world as they are while embracing both their flaws and strengths.

In this collection of stories and journal entries, Carly explores…

• the reality of living with an eating disorder,
• the problem with comparison, and
• the ways in which one’s environment affects one’s growth-for better or worse.

Readers from all walks of life are sure to see themselves in Carly’s story and discover new ways to thrive in spite of life’s challenges. Most importantly, this memoir will empower readers to see past the false stories they tell themselves so that they, too, can believe they are good enough.

Good Enough by Carly Newberg

If there is any comparison I can make with this book, it is to a piece of chocolate cake. Most books like this are like a cookie. Easily read through and to learn from, but this book wasn’t. It is deep and convicting and many times I had to pause while reading just to fully take in what Carly was saying. This book exposed many of the struggles that I also have, while also providing the truth and hope needed to grow and recover. Excellent lessons are in this, and I hope it encourages others like is has me. It’s not just a memoir, it’s so much more. It’s very, very deep, and there’s a lot to be learned from it. I’d highly recommend checking it out, but be mindful that Carly doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She gets right to the heart of the raw and gritty parts of life, but from the perspective that only through Christ can we ever be truly “good enough.”

And now, for the interview!

1. What in particular inspired you to actually write a whole book about your journey?

I was inspired to write a book about my experiences after starting my eating disorder recovery journey and realizing I wasn’t alone in feeling not good enough. Writing the book was a seed planted by God while I was studying abroad in Australia in 2017, and it’s one I took more seriously once I arrived back in the states later that year. The more I talked to others, read books, and listened to podcasts, the more I found there were a lot of men and women just like me.

Originally, the book was going to be about overcoming adversity, since I had yet to connect the dots from my past to my present. However, the initial direction shifted once I worked up the courage to talk about my fight with Anorexia, Bulimia, and Exercise Addiction. As I continued writing and talking with my story coach, I knew using my experiences with these illnesses specifically, was the story God put on my heart to publish for others struggling in a similar way.

I worried in doing this, I’d exclude other people from reading the book. However, as I continued on the process, I kept making connections between trauma, relationships, body image, and Christianity that I knew others would relate to even if they’ve never dealt with an eating disorder. 

Knowing how many lives I would touch with Good Enough, and trusting God’s word when He told me it was a book the world needed is what kept me inspired from start to finish. 

That’s great! I loved seeing your story grow from when Stephen (our mutual friend) first started talking about you about a year ago.

2. What sort of book would you describe Good Enough to be?

Good Enough falls into the memoir and self-help categories, but I like to describe it as a book of hope. More than anything, I wrote Good Enough to be a friend. I want my readers to know and believe with each chapter, that they are wholly accepted just as they are. Readers from all walks of life are sure to feel inspired to live more in tune with their God given identity and calling as they learn about the complexity of eating disorders and trauma, along with the transformation to come from forgiveness and faith. Good Enough isn’t a how-to book and instead, is an invitation to start a journey toward healing.

3. What was the biggest learning experience for you when writing Good Enough?

I learned several lessons while writing Good Enough, one of them being that I haven’t fully healed from my past trauma. Out of the entire book, writing chapter three was the most challenging because it tackles my relationship with my father who I still don’t have a great relationship with. I had to sit down and confront this chapter over a dozen times before being ready to release it to the world. There were a lot of tears. Pain. Frustration.

However, this obstacle led me to realize this: our healing does not have a finish line. Trauma is something we have to sit with, wrestle with, juggle, and contemplate. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t qualified to speak on things we have yet to heal from. Perhaps it’s when the wound is still fresh, that we are able to speak from the heart and be the most vulnerable about our circumstances. I’ve learned I can be “in process” while still helping others, and there is no shame in that. 

I remember reading that chapter and how it felt so much more emotional than the rest of the book, so that makes a lot of sense.

4. What would you say to someone who struggled from eating disorders not because of a weight issue, but because of anxiety or other mental health issues?

I see you, and I understand you. I know it seems as if your eating disorder is your only friend right now, but the truth is that you aren’t alone and there are many others like you. You’ve been coping the best you can given the pain you are in, and I want you to know it’s okay. I’ve been in your shoes and although the monsters in your head keep telling you to continue the disordered behaviors to relieve this pain, they don’t stay quiet for long and make promises they can’t keep. There is a better way to cope with the chaos in your mind and body, and it’s one that will give you permanent hope rather than temporary relief. This way of coping is not easy though. It will require commitment, and you will most likely have to go back through the weeds of your past. However, the reward will be worth it because you will realize that the control you’ve been carrying around is only an illusion. Not only that, but it’s been weighing you down when there are plenty of things God wants to lift you up with. I’ve been on this path before, and friend, I promise you that you will make it out alive if you stay steadfast on the path and don’t turn back no matter how hard it gets. There is life on the other side; a beautiful life waiting to be lived. 

I honestly should write that down and post it everywhere I am, haha.

5. Without using any word from the title, describe Good Enough in 6 words.

Relatable. Transformational. Vulnerable. Inviting. Knowledgeable. Inspirational. 

6. What is something you wish you could tell your past self?

You don’t have to earn love or affection from anyone. Love does not come with a price tag and you are already accepted and loved by the King most high. He knows you by name.

So, so very true.

7. What is the biggest lesson God taught you when writing Good Enough and its publication process?

He taught me it’s okay to not be perfect. When it came to all of the final details with the layout of the book, the cover—and even my launch party—he kept reminding me that things were “good enough.” As a Type A personality and 1 on the Enneagram, I tend to obsess over details and decisions in an attempt to be perfect, however, there were many moments throughout this process when I was challenged to simply let go. You really will drive yourself mad if you try to publish a book the “perfect” way. There is no such thing! I found myself more at ease and carefree when toward the end of the process, I discovered the freedom to come from accepting things as they are. You have to reach that point as an author or else you will always be thinking about what you could have or should have done differently.

Enneagram 1 is part of my tritype, (and I’m also Type A) so I totally understand what that’s like, especially as I’m working through my own publication journey and struggling with the same thing. *crazy face*

8. What sort of encouragement would you give to other people out there who wish to write about their experiences like yours but are too afraid to?

Start. Get out a piece of paper and a pen and write out everything that comes to mind regarding your idea for a book. It can be bullet points, a paragraph, or an entire chapter. Don’t set yourself a time limit and just write. Nobody has to see or read it. Write. 

When I started writing Good Enough, it was a page in my journal. That journal entry is now part of the Introduction. I’m not saying your free write has to become part of your book, however, you won’t ever know if you can do it until you start. For the first two years I worked on the book, I had little to no direction…I just kept writing and making time to write. It wasn’t until hitting a wall after being 100,000 words in, that I met a story coach who helped me find a writing process to successfully finish it.

But before working with him, I knew nothing about publishing a book and to research all of the options and the “right” way to do it was overwhelming. Not only that, but I was terrified to actually share what I had written with others. It was vulnerable, I’m sure I spelled a ton of things wrong, and I didn’t even have chapter names or themes! However, the hardest part was done once I reached that point: I had started. I had content—a story to tell—and you can’t back down once you’ve done the hardest part which is to begin writing. 

So very true. You can always readjust things when editing. A first draft doesn’t have to be perfect! Such great advice for beginner writers!

Thank you, so much, Carly, for letting me interview you for this post. I do apologize for taking so long!

Guys, go check her and her book out and don’t hesitate if you have questions yourself about her amazing journey.

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