Book Review: Too Much and Never Enough

To Much and Never Enough is not going to change anyone’s opinion about Donald Trump. His supporters, even if they read it, will dismiss the entirety of the book as “fake news” from a bitter relative trying to make a quick buck. His detractors will point to it as confirmation of all those things they already believe. Both sides will question the timing: Trump supporters will insist that it was published now to hurt the president’s reelection chances, while his detractors will lament why it was not published during his initial campaign to prevent his election entirely.

But this book is really less about the salacious details of the Trump family than it is one woman’s attempt to reconcile her personal pain; a pain caused by the people that were supposed to protect and care about her. Like countless emotionally abused individuals, Mary L. Trump is left to process the baggage of her family’s dysfunction in whatever way she can to cope.

This is not Donald Trump’s story. This is hers.

There is a lot to unpack in this surprisingly short book. At around 200 pages, Dr. Trump presents a streamline timeline of four generations of a vary atypical immigrant family. Beginning with Friedrich, Donald Trump’s grandfather, who left Germany for the United States in 1885 to avoid mandatory military service, Dr. Trump traces the threads of dysfunction and emotional decay with the detachment of someone who has finally reckoned with her past.

Instead of the bitterness or hatred one might expect, there is a casual, matter-of-fact examination of both her family’s behavior and her own responses to it. Much of this is, no doubt, due to her educational background; she earned her PhD from the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies and taught graduate courses in developmental psychology and trauma. She understands the science behind her family’s dysfunction, and this gives her a unique ability to discuss it with a perhaps unexpected level of neutrality. There is never the impression that she is attempting to “get even” with anyone or that she even bears anyone in her family real animosity.

If there is any animosity demonstrated, it is reserved for the media. She makes a point of highlighting all the times the media enabled her uncle’s worse behaviors in ways that ignored his actual (potentially criminal) activities while feeding into the mythos of the “self-made business genius”. Time and time again, the media (particularly the New York tabloids) served as an extension of Donald Trump’s ego; encouraging and pushing him toward his worse impulses.

Too Much and Never Enough is in some ways a very public act of therapy. This isn’t a bitter attempt to hurt Donald Trump. It is an emotional release of a lifetime of psychological baggage due to a dysfunctional family.  This book won’t change anyone’s opinion about the president, but at least the author can sleep at night knowing she shared her truth.