Sheryl Sandberg’s New Book Redefines What It Means to ‘Lean In’

April 24, 2017, 11:17 PM UTC
Courtesy of Knopf

Though it’s inspired by grief, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s latest book is as much about living a better life as it is about dealing with death.

Co-written with Wharton professor Adam Grant, Option B is part Sandberg’s memoir of the days and weeks following the death of her husband Dave Goldberg, and part research-based exploration of overcoming adversity.

It’s not exactly a follow-up to Lean In, but the Facebook COO does address her previous work in the new one, acknowledging its limitations and her own relatively good fortune: “When I wrote Lean In, some people argue that I did not spend enough time writing about the difficulties women face when they don’t have a partner. They were right.”

Sandberg’s trademark phrase itself takes on a new meaning in Option B. Sandberg recounts an episode where the rabbi who presided over her husband’s funeral tells her to “lean in to the suck”—that is, expect her life to be awful for a little while. Sandberg writes: “Not exactly what I mean when I said ‘lean in,’ but for me it was good advice.”

This time around, it is clear that Sandberg and Grant went to great lengths to be inclusive: Many of the book’s anecdotes about overcoming adversity come from minority populations. These stories, while enlightening, at times feel as though they were forced into the narrative. Likewise, the research that’s sprinkled in throughout is, while interesting, not nearly as powerful in making Sandberg and Grant’s point as the tech executive’s own account of overcoming grief.

The most compelling parts of the book are those that feel like they came straight out of Sandberg’s journal. In these sections, we see that even the most powerful, confident people struggle with insecurities. She writes:

I hated asking for help, hated needing it, worried incessantly that I was a huge burden to everyone, and yet depended on their constant support. I was suffering from so many insecurities that I almost started a People Afraid of Inconveniencing Others support group, until I realized that all of the members would be afraid of imposing on one another and no one would show up.

All in all, despite its heavy subject matter, the book is a surprisingly readable, thoroughly educational, and widely applicable read.

A version of this article appears in the April 1, 2017 issue of Fortune with the headline “What You Should Read This Spring.” We’ve included affiliate links in this article. Click here to learn what those are.

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