Be Not Afraid of Love: Lessons on Fear, Intimacy, and Connection (Paperback)
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“Radical and revolutionary.” —Jonny Sun, New York Times bestselling author of Goodbye, Again
A collection of powerful interconnected essays and affirmations that follow Mimi Zhu’s journey toward embodying and re-learning love after a violent romantic relationship, a stunning and provocative book that will guide and inspire readers to lean into love with softness
In their early twenties, Mimi Zhu was a survivor of intimate-partner abuse. This left them broken, in search of healing and ways to re-learn love. This work is a testament to the strength and adaptability all humans possess, a tribute to love. Be Not Afraid of Love explores the intersections of love and fear in self-esteem, friendship, family dynamics, and romantic relationships, and extends out to its effects on society and the greater political realm. In sharing their own intimate encounters with oppression, healing, joy, and community, Mimi invites readers to reflect deeply on their own experiences as well, with the intention of acting as a guide to undoing the hurt or uncertainty within them. In this heartrending and revolutionary book, Mimi reminds us, be not afraid of love.
About the Author
Mimi Zhu (they/them) is a queer Chinese-Australian writer and artist. They explore the many intersections of love and fear, and they facilitate workshops that are dedicated to the healing power of the written word. Their work has been featured in The New York Times, PAPER, i-D, The Guardian, Printed Matter, VICE, and more. They are based in Brooklyn, New York.
Praise for Mimi Zhu and Be Not Afraid of Love
“Zhu has found a way to lift the veil on the feelings and phenomena we experience but haven’t figured out a way to articulate to ourselves—let alone to the world—and uses their writing as both a mirror and a doorway: reflecting these parts back to us and inviting us in to process them together.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Intimate and heart-tugging, centered around radical love and rooted in a desire to heal . . . The book is part memoir, part essay collection, and part spiritual guide, a rumination on healing and Zhu’s journey to rediscover what it means to give and receive love.”
“Be Not Afraid of Love is a powerful reclamation of human connection. . . . a soul-baring look at Zhu’s journey toward healing as a survivor of intimate partner abuse. Taking cues from both memoir and self-help, they employ the wisdom of prolific scholars and philosophers like bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and Thích Nhất Hạnh to make sense of their trauma, develop self-compassion, and reconfigure their understanding of love. . . . Zhu’s candid storytelling, both/ands and all, underscores an uncomfortable but deeply human truth: Healing from abuse is a complicated, nonlinear process . . . What distinguishes their writing, Instagram affirmations and essays alike, is their honesty and humility.”
“[Zhu] brings their belief and practice of writing as a healing process into book form. . . . They capture the process of healing with incredible compassion, writing honestly about grief, anger, numbness, and fear, and how community, connection, and ultimately, love are the salve to past traumas.”
“Zhu translates the thought-provoking, text-based work they have become known for on Instagram into a book filled with wisdom, imagination, and tips for healing. The message of the book is clear in the title itself, as Zhu weaves together memoir and reflection on a range of topics, including grief, intimacy, anxiety, PTSD, romance, and vulnerability, that all relate back to the central theme of love. . . . Zhu’s messages have a certain clarity and warmth that make you feel like you’re listening to a close friend.”
“If I’ve learned anything from being in community with Zhu and reading their work in the past year, it’s that a whole lot of people don’t know how to love in healthy ways, and most of those people are eager to do better. What makes Zhu’s work so special is that they learned to stop fearing love, not by following constructs and norms, but by destroying them. In a culture filled with so many tragic depictions of queerness, this is one of the few books that illustrates how the answer to broken systems lies in queer communities of color who understand love better than anyone—if only because we’ve overcome the unconditional hate of others. It’s incredibly powerful to think that our expansive vision of joy and intimacy has the power to heal people far beyond the confines of our little corner of Brooklyn.”
“A radical and revolutionary act of love, transcendently written. Mimi Zhu writes about love in a way that is tender and caring and healing—they contextualize love not as an abstract sentiment but as a grounded and spiritual act intimately tied to every aspect of what we fight for.”
—Jonny Sun, New York Times bestselling author of Goodbye, Again
“Tender, insightful, and deeply affirming. These precious chapters are a nourishing constellation of hope, truths, new light, and the words on love and fellowship that we need; have always needed.”
—Yrsa Daley-Ward, poet and author of bone, The Terrible, and The How
“Zhu conveys their story with such honesty and clarity that it forges connections to your heart straight through the page. With incredible strength they lay out not only the darkness of their experiences with assault but also their path to love, to full acceptance of their past, of their emotions, and in the end, themself. Be Not Afraid of Love brings forward wisdom teachings like impermanence and the law of karma in a way that is accessible and relatable to a new generation. This book is bound to help those who are ready to reclaim their power.”
—Yung Pueblo, New York Times bestselling author of Clarity & Connection
“Poetic, luminous, and expansive, Be Not Afraid of Love guides the reader on a vital journey towards healing. Pulling from their own experience and their keen understanding of the systems that distort our collective understanding of love, Mimi Zhu writes with stunning honesty. This book is a moving meditation on what it means to move through shame, fear, anxiety, grief and so much more in order to truly find and accept love—from our community and from ourselves. Be Not Afraid of Love is both a question and an answer, beckoning the reader to interrogate the power of love, the utility of love. In this deeply wounded world, anyone and everyone thinking about how to improve our collective futures should read this book.”
–Zeba Blay, author of Carefree Black Girls
“Mimi Zhu's Be Not Afraid of Love is the kind of book that is effused with such candor and care that the words themselves become a salve. Zhu’s generosity to delve into their own life and circumstance to speak to the necessity of investing in love, in finding it in oneself, is such a tender and ripe offering. This is a book written for the community in an effort to help us all tend to ourselves in a deeper and more honestly profound way. This book will sit close to my heart for a long time. I am so grateful for Zhu’s words, mind, and existence.”
—Fariha Róisín, author of Like a Bird, How to Cure a Ghost, and Who Is Wellness For?
“The author’s bracing candor and perceptive insights into the psyches of abusers and the abused make for an unflinching and heartening account of recovering from intimate partner violence. Powerful and unique, this offers a nuanced perspective on what it means to love others and oneself.”