Have you ever heard of an "engagement chicken"? It's not a chicken that is about to get married, rather it is a lemon and herb flavored roast chicken dish, purported to cause boyfriends to propose marriage! This phenomenon might sound strange, but it is definitely a real thing. Just ask Joi Marie McKenzie, author of the must-read memoir, The Engagement Game.
At 28 years old Joi-Marie thought she had her life figured out. She was ambitious, confident, successful and held an enviable job as a producer covering entertainment in New York City. She has a loving family, and an encouraging boyfriend, Adam, who is as close to perfect as you can get- except for the fact that he won't propose! Joi-Marie was ready to get her life moving after building a steady career, keeping a fabulous Manhattan apartment, and the lifestyle she has always wanted. But, when the husband she wants doesn't fall into place, she decided to play the engagement game in-order to get Adam to drop down on one knee. After receiving a laundry list of advice on how to secure a ring, including the "engagement chicken", Joi-Marie realizes that this process of trying to attain a perfect life is far from what she actually wants, eventually becoming a person she doesn't even recognize. Joi-Marie had a sudden realization when she was left to pick up the pieces of her life. "I was just doing me, and I had a great time doing that. I realized I had lessons I still needed to learn along the way. I realized that I wasn't ready to get married. I was so focused on getting him ready, that I never turned the lens on myself and say are you ready for what you think you deserve? And I wasn't," Joi-Marie explained. With this epiphany of self-discovery, she must make a decision: pretend to be someone she's not in order to have the life she wanted, or have the courage to be herself and find her happily ever after in a way she never expected.
Helen was curious as to why Joi-Marie wanted to put the most intimate details of her life and relationship into a book! Joi-Marie explained that she comes from a family of writers and she grew up journaling constantly. After journaling interesting tidbits of her struggle to get her husband to propose, an editor saw her entries and immediately wanted to turn it into a book!
The response from readers have been the utmost positive. The readers that have gravitated towards Joi-Marie's book are older women in the later years of life, who thanked her for writing the book because they are still detailing with similar issues "It touched me because for women it happens to most of us," Joi Marie explained. "This sort of push and pull and the question of why do I feel burdened with getting married and men don't feel the same burden. Why is it all on me when two people are supposed to be coming together in a relationship? We talk about this in private with our friends and never actually have the conversation. This book for me was that I'm not ashamed to desire marriage, lets talk about it and free ourselves from being shamed that we're single. Most of americans are single and it's not a bad thing, so I wanted to talk about that.
Joi-Marie also talked about social media and how hard it is compare yourself to those people who "look" happy on the online platform, but might not actually be as happy in real life. She started to compare her life to others that she was seeing online, which takes you on a downward spiral. "Comparison kills all joy and possibilities," Joi Marie told Helen. "I had to take myself off of Facebook at one point in time because it was so debilitating to compare myself to all of these girls my age getting engaged."
In the age where looking for love means swiping left or right and fielding meager advances made over DM, Joi-Marie McKenzie's The Engagement Game offers a brutally honest perspective on what it really means to be a smart, sexy, single and seeking twenty-something, navigating today's dating minefield while seeking your fairytale ending at the same time. So many women have been told that they need a man, marriage or motherhood to be happy. In her stunning memoir, Joi-Marie reminds us that what women really need is the freedom to define happiness on our own terms!