Review of Hope and Other Luxuries, by Clare B. Dunkle

June 23rd, 2015

hope_and_other_luxuries_largeHope and Other Luxuries

A Mother’s Life with a Daughter’s Anorexia

by Clare B. Dunkle

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2015. 557 pages.
Starred Review

I met Clare Dunkle after I gave her first book a glowing review and then discovered she also lived in Germany. She’s one of those people I can talk with for hours, and I think of her as a friend.

When I saw she had another book out, I preordered it. When it came, I meant to read a little bit each night, but ended up reading a lot each night for quite awhile.

This is an honest — and painful — story about a mother dealing with her daughter’s anorexia. Even though my family does not have that particular issue, Clare’s writing pulled me in and made me feel like I knew what that would be like.

I especially related when she talked about how the voice that hurt the most was her own voice from the past, the voice of the extraordinary mother.

Good girls have good mothers. Extraordinary girls have extraordinary mothers. But deeply troubled girls? Oh, the old me knew all about them.

That’s how I used to be about marriages. Because I had an extraordinary and wonderful marriage. So whose fault must it have been when it all fell apart?

As I said, I had totally different circumstances from Clare, but she is open and honest about her journey, and I saw myself in her.

Clare also writes about her journey as an author. She describes her process — and honestly? Makes me feel like Not a Writer At All. I thought I had an imagination! But nothing like hers — distracted by her own imaginings. (At least when it’s going well.)

However, that didn’t surprise me. I already knew I love Clare’s books. And even in this nonfiction memoir, Clare writes words that pull me in and make me experience them. Hearing more about her process shone a light on her gift — even while the words she uses communicate so well, so pull you along and make you unable to stop reading.

Besides all that, I now feel I understand better the awful illness of anorexia. And I’m so glad that Clare and her daughter Elena have come so far with Hope intact. May this book supply Hope to many other families going through that. As someone who’s “only” been through divorce, I can say that I find this story of her journey honest, helpful, uplifting — and hope-bringing.

Thank you, Clare, for putting your heart in these pages.

claredunkle.com
chroniclebooks.com

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Source: This review is based on my own copy, preordered from Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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48-Hour Book Challenge Finish Line 2015

June 21st, 2015

48hbcYay! This morning at 7:45 am, I finished this year’s 48-Hour Book Challenge just as I finished reading another book.

My grand total was 28 hours and 15 minutes reading and reviewing, my second most for the challenge.

I finished the most books ever during the challenge — 8, and reviewed the most books ever — 5.

Here’s how the time was broken up:

18 hours and 30 minutes spent reading. That includes 1827 books read.

The books I finished and reviewed were:
Gone Crazy in Alabama, by Rita Williams-Garcia
Read Bottom Up, by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, by Phillip Hoose
Jinx’s Fire, by Sage Blackwood
Maeve’s Times: In Her Own Words, by Maeve Binchy

The book I finished just as I reached the Finish Line and so haven’t had time to review:
Wearing God, by Lauren F. Winner

Books I finished but decided not to review:
The Art of Stillness, by Pico Iyer
Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, edited by Kate Bernheimer
Peanuts Every Sunday, 1956-1960, by Charles M. Schulz

Books I read parts of:
The Bible
Horn Book Magazine
Rilke’s Book of Hours
The Spirit of Saint Francis, by Pope Francis
The Real Thing, by Ellen McCarthy
The New York Times Book of Mathematics
Surfaces and Essences, by Douglas Hofstadter
The Annotated Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery
The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss

2 hours, 30 minutes spent listening to The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, by Julie Berry. 2 CDs completed.

3 hours, 45 minutes spent writing the reviews and blogging. 2465 words written.

1 hour spent networking.

2 hours, 30 minutes spent posting the reviews.

And I come away wishing I could make all this a priority for the rest of the week! How delightful to spoil myself! Now I’m going to have to take care of some weekend errands I put off and deal with mundane things like getting some sleep. But it was so much fun while it lasted!

Review of Maeve’s Times, by Maeve Binchy

June 21st, 2015

maeves_times_largeMaeve’s Times

In Her Own Words

Selected Writings from The Irish Times

Edited by Róisín Ingle
with an Introduction by Gordon Snell

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2014. 383 pages.
Starred Review

This is a book for the many people who love Maeve Binchy’s writing and are so sorry she’s gone.

The book consists of articles she wrote for The Irish Times, beginning in 1964 (the year I was born).

Some of the articles might not seem relevant today — but you can hear Maeve’s voice in all of them. She was always curious, always with a sparkle of humor, always insightful. She saw the people around her, with all their foibles and quirks.

The most dated things here are the articles about royal weddings, but those are particularly fun. Maeve was a people-watcher from the beginning. She sometimes comments on her tendency to ask questions that end up being awkward rather than leaving well enough alone. She was always curious about people and their motives.

And oh my yes, she could write. Reading these, it’s no marvel how wonderful her novels were. She was constantly sharpening her skills of observation and insight and, simply, writing.

The articles are short. I was taking my time over this book, only reading an essay or two per day. Then I finished up in a splurge during the 2015 48-Hour Book Challenge.

This is a cozy, friendly book for those who, through her writing, had come to think of Maeve Binchy as a friend we’ll miss.

maevebinchy.com
aaknopf.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Jinx’s Fire, by Sage Blackwood

June 21st, 2015

jinxs_fire_largeJinx’s Fire

by Sage Blackwood

Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins), 2015. 388 pages.
Starred Review

Jinx’s Fire completes the story about Jinx, growing up in the Urwald, told in Jinx and Jinx’s Magic. Yes, you’ll want to read the other books first.

This book does bring things to a nice conclusion and reads like a complete story. I like the character things that happen as Jinx figures out his own magic and his connection to the Urwald.

In this book, three different kings are invading the Urwald, intending to destroy it, maybe “generously” giving them a small “preserve.” At the same time, the Bonemaster is growing in strength, causing Jinx not to be able to access the forest’s lifeforce. And Simon is still missing, and Elfwyn dangerously near the Bonemaster. Jinx also needs to get the people and creatures and wizards and witches of the Urwald to help against the invaders.

Basically, there’s much for Jinx to accomplish in this volume of the trilogy, and the author pulls it off in a satisfying way. There are many different kinds of magic in these books, but her descriptions of the magic don’t come across as vague and unclear as so many fantasy novels do. In fact, being able to describe multiple kinds of magic is one way Sage Blackwood stands out.

And it’s impossible not to love Jinx. He’s no saint. He gets impatient and can be overbearing. He sometimes has trouble figuring things out. But his gift of seeing the color and shape of people’s thoughts and his ability to listen to the trees makes him a distinctive character I will never forget.

A satisfying conclusion to a wonderful trilogy.

sageblackwood.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, by Phillip Hoose

June 20th, 2015

boys_who_challenged_hitler_largeThe Boys Who Challenged Hitler

Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club

by Phillip Hoose

Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2015. 198 pages.
Starred Review

This year because of schedule conflicts, I’m not attending Capitol Choices (a local group that chooses the 100 best books of the year for children and youth), and I’d promised myself this year I’ll just read books I want to read, not books I feel I ought to read. So I thought I wouldn’t read much children’s nonfiction. This book came in, and I thought I’d just check it back in, unread. But I started dipping into it, and found I couldn’t stop.

The story is of a group of Danish teens who didn’t like that their government had handed Denmark over to Hitler. They formed their own resistance band before any other organized resistance. They went to prison for it — and their case galvanized other Danes to act.

Phillip Hoose spoke at length with Knud Pedersen in 2012, working on this book with him before he died in 2014. How wonderful that this information was captured. Much of the book gives Knud’s voice and perspective.

Here’s a summary from the author in the Introduction, which explains why this important story had to be told. He was visiting the Museum of Danish Resistance in Copenhagen.

Then I came upon a special little exhibit entitled “The Churchill Club.” With photos, letters, cartoons, and weapons such as grenades and pistols, the exhibit told the story of a few Danish teens, schoolboys from a northern city, who got the resistance started. Mortified that Danish authorities had given up to the Germans without fighting back, these boys had waged a war of their own.

Most were ninth-graders at a school in Aalborg, in the northern part of Denmark called Jutland. Between their first meeting in December 1941 and their arrest in May 1942, the Churchill Club struck more than two dozen times, racing through the streets on bicycles in well-coordinated hits. Acts of vandalism quickly escalated to arson and major destruction of German property. The boys stole and cached German rifles, grenades, pistols, and ammunition — even a machine gun. Using explosives stolen from the school chemistry lab, they scorched a German railroad car filled with airplane wings. They carried out most of their actions in broad daylight, as they all had family curfews.

This book tells the details of their story, a fascinating one about teens deciding to act for what they believed to be right, at the risk of their own lives.

The book is engagingly written, with plenty of photographs and sidebars to break up the text. It’s targeted toward people the same age as these daring young men were at the time of their resistance.

philliphoose.com
macteenbooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Read Bottom Up, by Neel Shah & Skye Chatham

June 19th, 2015

read_bottom_up_largeRead Bottom Up

by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham

Dey St. (William Morrow), 2015. 239 pages.

I’m reading like crazy for the 48-Hour Book Challenge, and this book is a fluffy romance that was a fun diversion. Okay, it’s not exactly a romance, since the Authors’ Note at the front pretty clearly indicated that the relationship is doomed.

This book is the story of a modern relationship — told through emails and texts, not only between the principals themselves, but also with their best friends.

And yes, that rings true! In a relationship don’t we go over everything with our friends? Okay, this book was nice to assure me it’s not just me who does that. I loved the way Madeline analyzes everything including the speed or lack of speed with which Elliot answers her emails.

Another fun thing about the book is that the co-authors only shared with each other what the characters shared with each other — the discussion of the relationship with the respective best friends was totally written separately.

Here’s how they put it in the Authors’ Note:

Somewhere deep in your Sent Items graveyard are the emails you wrote to your former flame along with the emails you wrote about those emails to your best friend. It’s all right there — a partial record of your relationship. But what if you could see the whole picture? Not just your side of it. After all, somewhere in the pixelated part of the world is your ex’s inbox. Therein lies all sorts of analysis to which you were never privy. What if you could read the whole funny, tragic, wincing train wreck of it all, if you could finally open up your relationship like a dollhouse (or, say, a cadaver) and know the truth of what happened?

This book is fun and a quick read. And as someone theoretically facing the whole dating world, it made me feel not alone.

hc.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Gone Crazy in Alabama, by Rita Williams-Garcia

June 19th, 2015

gone_crazy_in_alabama_largeGone Crazy in Alabama

by Rita Williams-Garcia

Amistad (HarperCollins), 2015. 293 pages.
Starred Review

This is Rita Williams-Garcia’s third book about the Gaither sisters, growing up in 1960s America. The first book, One Crazy Summer, had them in Oakland, with their mother who left them when they were small. The second book, P. S. Be Eleven, saw them back home in Brooklyn, as their father was falling in love with a new woman. This book has them visiting their grandmother Big Ma in Alabama, where she lives in the home of Ma Charles, their great-grandmother, across the creek from their great-great aunt Miss Trotter.

I loved the first book, but wasn’t as enamored with the second. I think I love this book best of all, and have been completely won over again by these sisters.

Gone Crazy in Alabama is a family story, a sisters story. As Delphine and her two younger sisters squabble, so does Ma Charles squabble with her half-sister. The two haven’t spoken to each other in years, but they exchange barbs through the words of a willing Vonetta.

The girls learn about their messy heritage, getting a different slant as their great grandmother and great-great-aunt each tell it. They’ve got a handsome cousin living across the creek, a cousin who tends cows and dreams of being a pilot and has lived through his own horrible tragedy.

I still love the way Rita Williams-Garcia portrays the sisters. Delphine, the responsible one, is always trying to look out for her younger sisters, but the ways she does that are not often welcome. Each girl has her own distinctly lovable personality, though there’s plenty of realistic rivalry between the sisters.

And lots of laughter — this novel is infused with humor throughout, mainly by the crazy and realistic quirks of human nature.

When a great crisis occurs at the end of the book, it pulls everyone in Delphine’s big crazy family together.

I love the overall theme of walking through the storm.

Such a wonderful book! You can get away with reading this book without reading its predecessors, but a history with Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern will make it all the better.

ritawg.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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48-Hour Book Challenge Starting Line 2015

June 19th, 2015

48hbcWoo-hoo! The 48-Hour Book Challenge is here again!

The basic idea: Choose a 48-hour period of the weekend, and see how many hours of that time you can spend reading, reviewing, and bookish connecting.

I don’t know why on earth I didn’t participate last year, but I found my records from participation 2009 through 2013:

2009: 23 hours, 30 minutes; 5 books finished; 1120 pages; 5 books reviewed
2010: 26 hours, 40 minutes; 3 books finished; 995 pages; 4 books reviewed
2011: 30 hours, 30 minutes; 3 books finished; 1606 pages; 4 books reviewed
2012: 27 hours, 30 minutes; 3 books finished; 758 pages; 3 books reviewed; 5778 words written
2013: 20 hours; 3 books finished; 518 pages; 2 books reviewed; 3472 words written; 4 reviews posted

This weekend, alas, I have to work on Saturday. However, today is beautifully clear. (I don’t feel as guilty about cancelling with my Friday night gaming group as I used to feel cancelling my Friday night Home Fellowship group. I used to work around it.) So my goal will be 24 hours — of course if I have extra energy and find it possible to do without sleep (probably not possible; probably not a good idea), it would be fun to try to set a new record and go for 31 hours.

If the totals seem small, I should add that I always read many parts of books. I always have a few dozen nonfiction books going at once! This morning in my first hour of reading, I had an extended devotional time, reading parts of five different books, with a page count of 54 pages. (Page count tends to be lower when reading in pieces.)

I also get less read if I use the time writing reviews and posting reviews, which is why I started keeping track of words written and reviews posted as well. Today I have some reviews written and waiting to be posted, so I may break up my reading by posting them.

The totals are much, much less, of course, than I’d like them to be. Oh the ambitious stacks of books I’ve set aside in the past! But regardless of the totals, it’s so much fun putting everything else aside and taking time to READ!

And I always like to post my theme song for the challenge!

And, oh yes, I officially began at 7:45 am on Friday morning. I will finish at 7:45 am on Sunday morning. How many books will I be able to read and review in that time? How many hours will I spend? Stay tuned….

Review of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sydney Padua

June 16th, 2015

lovelace_and_babbage_largeThe Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage*

*The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer

by Sidney Padua

Pantheon Books, New York, 2015. 319 pages.
Starred Review

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book quite like this. It’s based on a web comic. The comic is based on two actual historical geniuses, Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. But Sidney Padua invents the existence of pocket universes, where Charles Babbage actually builds his Analytical Engine (In real life, he never built it, always coming up with a better idea before bringing an earlier idea to completion.), and Ada Lovelace actually lived long enough to help him program it.

This book describes their adventures in the pocket universes. Now, in our universe, computers actually got built in the age of electricity, using vacuum tubes and electric current. Babbage designed his Difference Engine and Analytical Engine to run on steam, so that’s what’s drawn here – a grand Difference Engine with cogs and gears and powered by steam.

Other historical figures of the period run through these pages, and some of the most fun to be found here are in the extensive footnotes, endnotes, and appendices. While reading about what never happened, you’ll learn all sorts of facts about what did actually happen. You’ll come to know Lovelace and Babbage, seeing them in action, using words they actually wrote in their real-life lifetimes.

Here’s how Sidney Padua describes beginning to write this comic:

It was in a pub somewhere in London in the spring of 2009 that I undertook to draw a very short comic for the web, to illustrate the very brief life of Ada Lovelace. This was suggested to me by my friend Suw, also in the pub, who was (and still is) the impresario of an annual women-in-technology virtual festival she had named after Lovelace, a historical figure of whom I think I was hazily aware.

As anybody else would do, I looked up “Ada Lovelace” on Wikipedia. There I found the strange tale of how, in the 1830s, an eccentric genius called Charles Babbage only just failed to invent the computer, and how the daughter of Lord Byron wrote imaginary programs for his imaginary computer. It was such an extraordinary story, so full of weird personalities and poetic flourishes that it hardly seemed true; but at the end of it the facts thudded back to dull reality. Lovelace died young. Babbage died a miserable old man. There never was a gigantic steam-powered computer. This seemed an awfully grim ending for my little comic. And so I threw in a couple of drawings at the end, imagining for them another, better, more thrilling comic-book universe to live on in.

She goes on to say, “Almost everybody had failed to realize that my alternate-universe ending was a joke.” And so she began writing these comics.

The result is quirky, full of facts, and a whole lot of fun. I also love the Victorian, over-the-top style used, especially for title pages and diagrams.

And, yes, I will be watching the webpage for more adventures.

And, okay, I’ll admit it. I brought this book to a Book Dating event. It’s like Speed Dating — only everyone brings a book, and you have something to talk about. I thought this book was a nice blend of fiction and nonfiction — and that anyone who thinks it’s cool will be someone I will be able to easily talk with. This turned out to be true.

2dgoggles.com
sydneypadua.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Book of Forgiving, by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu

June 11th, 2015

book_of_forgiving_largeThe Book of Forgiving

The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World

by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu

HarperOne, 2014. 229 pages.
Starred Review

I don’t think you can have too many books on forgiveness. Even though it’s now been a long time since my divorce, I’ve been reading this book slowly, trying to absorb it. It articulates things I’d already learned about forgiveness as well as showing me new things to consider and new ways to look at it.

Forgiving isn’t a journey you’ll ever completely finish, but Desmond and Mpho Tutu present a Fourfold Path that will help you deal with those who have wronged you and people you have wronged as well.

This book doesn’t come from a trivial place. Here’s some of the background Desmond Tutu gives in the Introduction:

As chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I have often been asked how the people of South Africa were able to forgive the atrocities and injustices they suffered under apartheid. Our journey in South Africa was quite long and treacherous. Today it is hard to believe that, up until our first democratic election in 1994, ours was a country that institutionalized racism, inequality, and oppression. In apartheid South Africa only white people could vote, earn a high-quality education, and expect advancement or opportunity. There were decades of protest and violence. Much blood was shed during our long march to freedom. When, at last, our leaders were released from prison, it was feared that our transition to democracy would become a bloodbath of revenge and retaliation. Miraculously we chose another future. We chose forgiveness. At the time, we knew that telling the truth and healing our history was the only way to save our country from certain destruction. We did not know where this choice would lead us. The process we embarked on through the TRC was, as all real growth proves to be, astoundingly painful and profoundly beautiful….

I would like to share with you two simple truths: there is nothing that cannot be forgiven, and there is no one undeserving of forgiveness. When you can see and understand that we are all bound to one another – whether by birth, by circumstance, or simply by our shared humanity – then you will know this to be true. I have often said that in South Africa there would have been no future without forgiveness. Our rage and our quest for revenge would have been our destruction. This is as true for us individually as it is for us globally.

There have been times when each and every one of us has needed to forgive. There have also been times when each and every one of us has needed to be forgiven. And there will be many times again. In our own ways, we are all broken. Out of that brokenness, we hurt others. Forgiveness is the journey we take toward healing the broken parts. It is how we become whole again.

The book begins by laying the groundwork. The authors explain why we need to forgive for our own sakes. It explains what forgiveness is and is not. (Forgiveness is not weakness, is not a subversion of justice, and is not forgetting. Forgiveness is also not easy.) Then it explains the Fourfold Path of Forgiveness, an alternative to the cycle of Revenge.

The first step on the Fourfold Path is Telling the Story.

Telling the story is how we get our dignity back after we have been harmed. It is how we begin to take back what was taken from us, and how we begin to understand and make meaning out of our hurting….

It is not always easy to tell your story, but it is the first critical step on the path to freedom and forgiveness. We saw this so palpably in the TRC, when the victims of apartheid were able to come forward to tell their stories. They were relieved to have a place of safety and affirmation in which to share their experiences. They were also relieved of the ongoing victimization they suffered from believing that no one would ever truly know what they had endured or believe the stories they had to tell. When you tell your story, you no longer have to carry your burden alone….

We may need to tell our stories many times over, to many different people, and in many different forms before we are ready to move forward in the forgiveness process. We also may find that just telling our stories relieves a burden we have carried. When we tell our stories, we are practicing a form of acceptance. When we tell our stories, we are saying, “This horrible thing has happened. I cannot go back and change it, but I can refuse to stay trapped in the past forever.” We have reached acceptance when we finally recognize that paying back someone in kind will never make us feel better or undo what has been done. To quote the comedian Lily Tomlin, “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”

The second step on the Fourfold Path is Naming the Hurt.

Every one of us has a story to tell of when we were hurt. Once we are done telling our stories – the technical details of who, when, where, and what was done to us – we must name the hurt. Giving the emotion a name is the way we come to understand how what happened affected us. After we’ve told the facts of what happened, we must face our feelings. We are each hurt in our own unique ways, and when we give voice to this pain, we begin to heal it….

Often it can seem easier or safer to simply dismiss a hurt, stuff it down, push it away, pretend it didn’t happen, or rationalize it, telling ourselves we really shouldn’t feel the way we do. But a hurt is a hurt. A loss is a loss. And a harm felt but denied will always find a way to express itself. When I bury my hurt in shame or silence, it begins to fester from the inside out. I feel the pain more acutely, and I suffer even more because of it….

If you cannot, or choose not to, name your hurt to the perpetrator, then you can talk to a trusted friend or family member, a spiritual advisor, a counselor, another who has experienced the same kind of harm, or anyone who will not judge you and who will be able to listen with love and empathy. Just as in telling the story, you can write your hurt down in a letter or journal. The most important thing is to share with someone who is able to receive your feelings without judging or shaming you for having them. Indeed, because it is never easy to confront the one who has harmed us directly, I strongly encourage you to name the hurt to others first.

When we give voice to our hurt, it loses its stranglehold on our lives and our identities. It stops being the central character in our stories. Ultimately, as we will discuss in the next chapter, the act of forgiving helps us create a new story. Forgiveness lets us become the author of our own future, unfettered by the past. But in order to begin to tell a new story, we must first have the courage to speak…. It is human to want to retaliate, to feel anger, and to feel a profound sense of resentment toward those who have harmed us. When we share these feelings, however, when we give voice to our desire for revenge, our rage, and the many ways we feel our dignity has been violated, the desire for revenge lessens. There is relief. Feeling this relief does not mean that there is no justice, or that it was okay for someone to hurt us. It simply means we don’t have to let our suffering make us perpetual victims. When we name the hurt, just as when we tell the story, we are in the process of reclaiming our dignity and building something new from the wreckage of what was lost.

The third step on the Fourfold Path is Granting Forgiveness.

I like this observation: “Raising children has sometimes felt like training for a forgiveness marathon.”

As our own children grew, they found new (and remarkably creative) ways of testing our patience, our resolve, and our rules and limits. We learned time and again to use the teaching moments their transgressions offered. But mostly we learned to forgive them over and over again, and fold them back into our embrace. We know our children are so much more than the sum of everything they have done wrong. Their stories are more than rehearsals of their repeated need for forgiveness. We know that even the things they did wrong were opportunities for us to teach them to be citizens of the world. We have been able to forgive them because we have known their humanity. We have seen the good in them. We have prayed for them. It was easy to pray for them. They are our children. It is easy to want the best for them.

But I also pray for other people who may irk or hurt me. When my heart holds anger or resentment toward someone, I pray for that person’s well-being. It is a powerful practice and has often opened the doorway to finding forgiveness.

It might be obvious that this step is crucial, but he reiterates why that is so.

We choose forgiveness because it is how we find freedom and keep from remaining trapped in an endless loop of telling our stories and naming our hurts. It is how we move from victim to hero. A victim is in a position of weakness and subject to the whims of others. Heroes are people who determine their own fate and their own future. A victim has nothing to give and no choices to make. A hero has the strength and ability to be generous and forgiving, and the power and freedom that come from being able to make the choice to grant forgiveness.

The final step on the Fourfold Path is Renewing or Releasing the Relationship.

Forgiveness is not the end of the Fourfold Path, because the granting of forgiveness is not the end of the process of healing. We all live in a delicate web of community, visible and invisible, and time and again the connecting threads get damaged and must be repaired. Once you have been able to forgive, the final step is to either renew or release the relationship you have with the one who has harmed you. Indeed, even if you never speak to the person again, even if you never see them again, even if they are dead, they live on in ways that affect your life profoundly. To finish the forgiveness journey and create the wholeness and peace you crave, you must choose whether to renew or release the relationship. After this final step in the Fourfold Path, you wipe the slate clean of all that caused a breach in the past. No more debts are owed. No more resentments fester. Only when you renew or release the relationship can you have a future unfettered by the past.

This scratches the surface of what’s in this book. There are examples and exercises to help you along the way. Concluding chapters talk about when you are the one who needs forgiveness and about forgiving yourself.

This is a beautiful book on a life-giving topic. I’ve got to admit, I’d like to wish readers a life where they never have to forgive anyone. But come to think of it, that would not be as rich a life. When you do find yourself needing to forgive, this book is a wonderful resource.

tutu.org.za
humanjourney.com/forgiveness
harperone.com

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