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Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life’s Changes by Lauren Akins and Mark Dagostino
Source: goodreads giveaway win; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: When country music star Thomas Rhett won the ACM Award for Single of the Year with “Die a Happy Man,” his wife, Lauren Akins, was overjoyed. Her childhood best friend and now husband was being anointed the hottest new star in country music—for a song he had written about her. He was living his dream. Lauren was elated, but she was also wrestling with some big questions, not the least of which was, How can I live my own life of purpose?
Lauren Akins never wanted to be in the spotlight, but as Thomas Rhett made his relationship with Lauren the subject of many of his hit songs, she was tossed into the role of one of America’s sweethearts. Revered by fans for her down-to-earth ease and charm, her commitment to humanitarian work, and the pure love she exudes for her family, Lauren has never shared her side of their story—full as it’s been, with deep love, painful loss, tremendous joy, and a struggle to stay grounded in faith along the way—until now.
In Live in Love, Lauren shares details about her childhood friendship with Thomas Rhett, explaining how they reconnected as young adults. She offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at the challenges of being married to her best friend, who just happens to be a music star, and the struggle to find her own footing in the frenzy of her husband’s fame. And in heart-wrenching detail, she opens up about her life-changing experiences doing mission work in Haiti, and then in Uganda, where she met the precious baby who would become their first daughter a year later.
Let Me Introduce You to Lauren Akins
If you listen to country music – and maybe even if you don’t – then you’ve probably heard something by Thomas Rhett. I’m a fan of his music, so I was really excited to see that his wife, Lauren Akins, was releasing a memoir. I didn’t know a lot about Lauren going into the book – minus the fact that her and Thomas had adopted a baby from Uganda and were the parents to a total of three girls (she found out she was pregnant with their third girl while working on the book). Despite this, I was curious to learn more about Lauren and her story.
I really, really loved Live in Love. It’s obvious that Lauren is a pretty down-to-earth Southern girl. It was fun learning about her friendship with Thomas Rhett (they met in the third grade, and even dated as 15 year olds for a bit). Their families were best friends, and they had mutual friends among the two of them. Lauren shares stories of growing up with the neighborhood kids and how her family was always welcoming people into the house for parties and sleepovers. It sounds like a pretty idyllic way to grow up, and it reminded me of my own childhood in some ways.
The memoir continues as Lauren goes to college, with her and Thomas Rhett both dating different people on and off for years. Thomas eventually dropped out of school to focus on his music full time, Lauren and him got back together and then were married. They were very young. However, they were best friends, who had known each other for years. Lauren went on the road with her husband and studied for her nursing exams.
Part 2 of Live in Love
The second half of the book really focuses on Lauren and Thomas’ marriage and how it did and did not work. I love that Lauren was so open and honest about the struggles. She wasn’t happy just travelling around with Thomas. She wanted her own purpose. The two of them went to marriage counseling various times throughout their relationship, and I think it’s amazing that they “admitted” this. I put “admitted” in quotes because counseling shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of, not even marriage counseling – it just means you care enough to want to work out your issues. It was great hearing how Lauren and Thomas worked to make their relationship better, and to make sure that they were both being heard and understood in the relationship.
Positive Highlights of the Memoir
Another plus about the book is that throughout there are moments where Thomas shares his thoughts, or the two of them have a brief conversation about something. It was nice seeing both sides of the story in a way.
Apart from her marriage, Lauren talks about going overseas to volunteer, sometimes using her nursing skills and sometimes just helping. Her first trip to Uganda is where she meets her daughter, Willa Gray, and she details the long, sometimes heartbreaking, journey to adopting her and bringing her home…where she soon met her sister, Ada James (who Lauren was pregnant with when they adopted Willa). It was great hearing about what Lauren does to help children around the world, and I loved the story of how Willa and Ada came into their lives.
I remember the day I told my Daddy and Mama you’re gonna have a grandkid, yep
From Uganda, that’s right, we’re adopting
And she is the cutest little girl that you’ve ever seen
Well I was wrapping my head around being a dad
A bigger wrench got thrown in the plans we thought we’d had
Now Lauren’s showin’, got one on the way
Yeah that’s two under two, hey, what can I say?
“Life Changes” by Thomas Rhett
Sorry this was such a long review! I really wanted to help paint a picture of what Lauren includes in her memoir. I will say that she is religious and there is definitely a lot about God and trusting a higher power, etc. This doesn’t bother me – even though I’m more spiritual than religious- but I know it’s something that some might like to know going in!! In the end – I do recommend this one! It was a fascinating, quick read full of honest and open discussions on life, love, and everything else.