Monday, August 30, 2010

Bittersweet Honesty About Life and Such

Recently, I received a review copy of Shauna Niequist's soon-to-be released memoir/blog style book - Bittersweet. I loved both the topic (thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way) and the cover photo with its crumbly chocolate cookie. While this is a bit off topic, I am including a review for my blog readers, many of you in your 20s and early 30s, a few who are moms, and all of us women who have experienced the rocky bittersweet moments of life that Shauna writes of in her book.

Shauna's writing makes you feel like you have joined an inner circle of really cool 20-something girlfriends, the type of friends who are at different stages of single, married, and mom-life, yet still squeeze in time for blogging, freestyle impromptu Italian dinners, and long talks over chai tea. Her book is equal part reflection, honesty, advice, and food. She made me hungry, not just for the bounty of farmer's markets, but also for those types of friends who can linger over coffee and bare their souls with one another.

Perhaps my favorite chapter was her writing on friendship. As I finished it, I sighed, wiped away a stray tear, and made another resolution to call all of the dear women who have drifted out of my daily life (you know who you are). She writes:

"Share your life with the people you love, even if it means saving up for a ticket and going without a few things for a while to make it work. There are enough long lonely days of the same old thing, and if you let enough years pass and if you let the routine steamroll your life, you'll wake up one day, isolated and weary, and wonder what happened to all those old friends. You'll wonder why all you share is Christmas cards, and why life feels lonely and bone-dry. We were made to live connected and close . . .

So walk across the street, or drive across town, or fly across the country, but don't let really intimate loving friendships become the last item on your long to-do list. Good friendships are like breakfast. You think you are too busy to eat breakfast, but then you find yourself exhausted and cranky halfway through the day, and discover that your attempt to save time totally backfired."

So true. And, I can add as a woman who is at least a decade or so Shauna's senior, it doesn't get easier when your kids get older or your career is more established or you get married or you have more money. It is always hard and always worth it.

Shauna speaks some rich truths here. I found her honesty touching and refreshing. My only critique is that it feels, to the reader, as if one has stepped midstream into her life story. While I treasured many of her individual essays, the overall story line sometimes left me a bit lost and confused. I'd love to hear more of her backstory and the overall circumstances of her bittersweet mood at the beginning of the memoir so I could better appreciate the role faith played in her life.

Thank you, Shauna. Now I must go and find my long-lost girlfriends...
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