Wednesday, April 9, 2014

currently reading: Bittersweet

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My book review in fewer than 10 words: 


My book review in more than 10 words:

If you've read my review of Shauna Niequest's book Bread & Wine, it will probably come as no surprise that I loved this book as well.  Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way is Shauna's second book, which she wrote in between Cold Tangerines and Bread & Wine.  I am just now starting Cold Tangerines, which means that I have read her books exactly opposite as to how she wrote them.

As the title suggests, Bittersweet is written out of a season of loss and frustration in Shauna's life that will later yield good lessons.  This is a book that not everyone will understand.  But if you, too, have had a season where it feels like you are just bracing yourself for the next blow, for whatever disaster God or fate could send you next, this may be the book you need to read.

Bittersweet is a collection of essays that cover all sorts of things: the loss of a job and the loss of a baby.  Moving away from loved ones and making new ones.  Cooking and gatherings round tables.  Grace, grace, and more grace.  Friendships, families, motherhood and more.

In "Grace is the New Math," she writes of keeping a tally of the good and the bad of a person's life and calculating up their worth.  "Grace is smashing the calculator, and using all the broken buttons and pieces to make a mosaic."

This book came at the perfect time in my life.  I am, just now, slowly, calling myself a writer.  I haven't been able to say it aloud to someone, but I'm working on that.  In "Love Song for the Fall" Shauna writes about writing.  She says, "'s hard work, fraught with fear and self-consciousness..."  It is silly, of course, but I assume that fantastic writers sit down at the computer and the correct words flow out with no effort.  When I read that she had to force herself to sit down and work, suddenly writing was normalized for me.  This is difficult for everyone.  This is not always enjoyable.  This takes time.  This. is. difficult.

Multiple essays are on the subject of miscarriage.  Although I would never be bold enough to say that I understand miscarriage, her words gave me a window into what mothers must be feeling after the loss of a baby.  She writes of remembering the due date and thinking about "what might have been."  She tells readers to "say something" after a tragedy, even if it is awkward and you are not sure what to say.  I told my husband that if we know someone who miscarries, I'd like to buy them this book in addition to being there for them.  What I meant was that I wanted to give them words when they might not know how to express what they are feeling and, since I can't relate to that experience at this point in my life, I want to hand them a reminder that they are not alone.  

Earlier I said, "Go buy this book immediately!"  I was serious.  

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