It was on Facebook that I saw an invitation from Krystal Kolnik that she was offering her book ‘Lessons from Frogs I’ve kissed’ for Review. Having written two books in the last two years and in the midst of my third ‘SwitchBitch’ book, plus the intriguing title, made me contact Krystal. I read the book on the rainy Election Day, and could not put it down until I had reached the last page, it was so gripping and real.
I have not met Krystal, and all I know about her is what I learnt about her from her book: she lives in the ‘Deep South’, at the time of the book in Kommetjie and Misty Cliffs, is a very successful estate agent, has two daughters, plays social poker, and that this is her first book, which has just won a Gold Literary Titan Book Award.
The book tells a ‘transformative love story’, the author relating the ‘significant adult relationships’ in her life over a twenty year period, and the lessons she learnt from them. There is dope addict Sean, verbally and physically abusive Pete, Jewish Gary who cannot let go of his lesbian Israeli wife Sara, handsome bachelor Zac, alcoholic insecure clinging Brent, and finally, her Chilean ‘prince’ Antonio. Along her journey Krystal discovers who she is, and definitely knows what it is that she does not want in a future relationship, yet the relationships with each of these men grow her in dealing with the children and ex-partners of her men, and the personal baggage that they bring into a relationship.
She calls on help from healer Jason, from kinesiologist Shanti, learns to meditate, does yoga, and leans on her best friend, colleague, and later sister-in-law Ana. She ‘divorces’ Ana for a while, and almost her mother too, as her family and friends are critical about her taking on new relationships too quickly after a previous one. But ultimately, in her growth, she learns about Self-Worth, taking risks in boldly facing problems with her partners, and questioning what is right for her. She sets boundaries, making the fence higher as she continues on her journey, having to go on 14 dates before she ‘consummates’ the relationship with a new partner.
Krystal reminds the reader that there is no magic wand in making a relationship perfect. It requires honest communication, allowing each other space, hard work throughout the relationship, happiness as well as tears, setting boundaries yet being flexible, and acceptance by one’s family and friends. But once one finds Mr Right, as Krystal did, it was worth all the heartache, drama, and pain that one has to endure in a relationship to find that magic person. Krystal marries her ‘prince’, and they live happily ever after.
The male characters, and the abuse and trauma that Krystal suffered, pressed buttons for me, from my own marriage more than 40 years ago, with unfaithful partners, and the drama of relationships, the back and forth, and walking on eggs, always compromising. I found the book gripping, and finished it on the same day. My tummy was tied up in a knot, reading the book affecting me so directly, demonstrating Krystal’s ability as a story teller, honest at all times. I had to take two walks in Camps Bay whilst reading the book, to destress, and to face the demons of Trust, Rejection, and fear of Abandonment, which came up for me, which I realised after reading the book are still present.
In giving Krystal feed back about the impact of her book on me we started chatting, and I suggested that we meet, feeling that I can identify with her, and that it felt as if she was telling my story, just with different ‘frogs’ and names! I was halfway through the book, and I saw the reference to her birthday being late in December. Intrigued, as mine is around that time too, I wrote to ask her when her birthday is. By unbelievable serendipity, we share 20 December as our birthdate!
As a fellow book writer, I was not sure how Krystal handled naming the past men in her life in her story, as I have been questioned about the moral and legal implications of mentioning the names of the men that I had relationships with, which as a true and honest Sagittarian I did in my books. In the Acknowledgements we learn that her ‘prince’ Antonio is her husband Kiko Herrera, and the real names of her family are revealed too. However, the ‘frogs’ in her life are not identified by their real names. When we meet soon, this will certainly be a question I will ask Krystal.
’Lessons from the Frogs I’ve kissed’, by Krystal Kolnik, Staging Post, Johannesburg. 2019. Facebook. Instagram: @kryspynoodle @jacanamedia
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein