Book Review: Beauty in the Broken Places

by Mary Jedlicka Humston

If you’re looking for an honest portrayal of how one woman meets tragedy with strength, faith, and courage, I highly recommend Allison Pataki’s Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith and Resilience. Pataki is five months pregnant when her thirty-year-old husband Dave (a healthy surgical resident) suffers a rare form of stroke while on a vacation flight.

beauty in broken
At this point, his life is in serious jeopardy. If he survives, will he have a full recovery? So much is uncertain that Pataki begins to write letters to Dave. They become written memories she hopes to share with him, reminders of all that has happened while he fights for his life and eventually as he works to reclaim it through a challenging and rigorous recovery.

Pataki is the author of several books, including the bestselling novels Sisi, The Traitor’s Wife, and The Accidental Empress, so writing is a large part of her life. Composing these letters became essential in how she managed as a caretaker for her husband and eventually their newborn daughter.
As she states:
“I would write to understand. I would write to bring together the ragged and disparate threads, to try to weave something comprehensible from the frayed strands of pain and love, loss and hope, fear and faith, beauty and brokenness. I would write to try to find some order, some narrative, some meaning from the daily torment of having lost so much. And so that is what I did. DearDave.doc became the place where I turned, the pages piling up as the days passed, one by one.”
Pataki includes some of these letters for Dave while she honestly portrays the challenges of dealing with her husband’s stroke. Her book will keep you so involved it will be difficult to set down. That’s how it was for me.

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A Slice of Heaven in My New Home

Both Marys have a tendency to storing “stuff,” particularly paper. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the average U.S. household contains 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards. That statistic presented a dilemma when it came time for a move to Dubuque, Iowa, where I now work. The house I purchased was less than half the size of my former one. I realized I was going to have to get rid of a lot of “stuff.” Several weeks of sorting, two garage sales, and copious donations later, last week I managed to fit all my worldly possessions into a U-Haul cargo van driven by my son and a horse trailer pulled behind the truck of my generous friends Dan and Carmen Cooke.
In preparing for this move, I had to carefully consider each and every item I owned, deciding which items meant the most to me. I would no longer have a separate office. No storage space, except an outside shed.  Some of my favorite things that wouldn’t fit in my smaller home made their way into my new office, instead.

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One thousand books were weeded down to less than fifty. I sold a bench, two oak shelves, my huge solid oak desk, a kitchen shelf. A cabinet. Half my wardrobe. My mother’s kitchen table that wouldn’t fit in the new house, went to my sister. I sold, donated, and left things on the curb to be carted off. I was amazed, and somewhat horrified, at the sheer amount of paper in my possession; photographs, newspaper clippings, letters, greeting cards. I spent hours, then days, sifting through stacks, boxes, totes, and a trunk. Daybooks (shorter day diaries) were burnt, journals kept. Greeting cards that were simply signed; discarded. Despite all this, much of the paper still came with me; photo albums packed into storage totes that fit under my bed, letters organized by groups; my mother, my siblings, my children, and yes, even fan letters. The childish scrawls of a niece, crayon drawings of a grandson; too precious to dispose of. The trunk in my bedroom is filled with such paper memories.
I’ve spent three days unpacking, managing to fill one room with the contents of two; my bedroom and office. The laundry area is also in this same room, but hidden behind a door in the corner. Because of what shall forever be remembered as “the great purge,” everything that remains gives me joy, makes me smile.

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The corner across from the laundry area. Without a desk, a single cabinet and several file folder totes hold my important papers. The wonderful hanging bins are from Hobby Lobby, and serve as a receptacle for my stationery. Of course my bird/butterfly curtains and Michael the Archangel came with me.

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My mother’s cabinet. The books inside are the only survivors of the purge, outside of  favorite spiritual ones I moved to my office, and a stack of books to be read on the floor by my bed. The hand-carved clock made by my brother Bill has my favorite Bible verse inscribed on it. chair.jpg

The cozy chair my children gave me for Christmas, where I listen to music, write, read, and journal. I’ve been known to fall asleep in this wonderful chair.
There’s a reason a big black star was drawn on one of my kitchen boxes; the coffeemaker was inside it! My daughter Rachel came over Thursday night to help me unpack the kitchen. She organized a coffee shelf and a tea corner for me. Those make me smile, too.

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There’s still a lot of unpacking to do, organizing, and hanging pictures on the wall, but overall, I’m excited by how the house is coming together, and grateful for my children’s help and that of my good friends Dan and Carmen in getting here. I don’t know what I would have done without them. It was a huge amount of work.
I’ve heard it said that everyone should move once every ten years, just to clean out their possessions. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but downsizing to a house half the size certainly does the trick!

What’s in Your Mailbox?

Did you know you can digitally preview your mail and manage your packages scheduled to arrive by registering for Informed Delivery on the USPS website? Informed Delivery allows you to view greyscale images of the exterior, address side of letter-sized mailpieces and track packages that have been processed through USPS automated equipment. Click HERE to sign up for this free service.

This morning’s e-mail not only let me know a bank statement and letter from my daughter Katie would be arriving, I could see that Katie used the Mr. Rogers stamps I gave her before she left on this trip.

informed delivery

This takes away a little of the excited anticipation I always experience heading to the mailbox, but it also means if I have something really important arriving in the mail that day, I can call home from work to let Abby know to take the mail in.

Take My Hand

Just weeks before my husband David unexpectedly died in 2012, we’d shared a conversation that was uncharacteristic for us; regarding what we’d want the other one to do if we died first.

“I’d want you to get married again,” David had said. “Because I know how much you love hugging and holding hands.”

I miss his hugs, his hand in mine.

handsHad he lived, David and I would have celebrated our 39th anniversary earlier this month. I’ve been without him for more than six years. I’ve faced a lot of changes in my life since then, both good and bad, but even good changes can cause stress.

According to the Social Readjustment Rating Scale developed by Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, the stressful life events I’ve experienced just in the last six months put me at a solid 285 in regards to measured stress levels, too near the dangerous 300 level for comfort. Among those life events I’ve experienced; a virulent flu virus that lasted more than two weeks, an attack of Shingles, an unexpected loss of income, a subsequent need to change jobs, a daughter leaving home for a month-long stint at an organic farm in sunny California, and an “outstanding personal achievement.” While I wouldn’t go so far as to use the word outstanding, submitting my manuscript one day ahead of deadline was a personal achievement, nonetheless, one that left me feeling somewhat at odds with myself. You can’t have worked on something for so many months without missing the intensity of the writing.facebook
Lucky for me, I didn’t have time to feel that way long. Two days after submitting the manuscript, I began a new job, as program coordinator for a spirituality center. This is the view from my office. When the window is open, I can hear the peaceful sounds of the trickling fountain.

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While I no longer have David’s steadying hand to grasp, in the past six years I’ve discovered a stronger one yet. It is God’s hand that led me to a workplace that not only allows prayer, but encourages it. Which is why I was comfortable asking my new co-workers to pray for me on Friday when I was sidelined by a concern regarding the sale of my house. One of them went above and beyond, composing a beautiful prayer specific to my worry and e-mailing it to me; the message a reminder to trust God’s plan and providence. Taking a deep breath, I read and re-read the prayer, as if drawing sustenance from it. All the months of working on a book, searching for a new job, looking for a house, sorting through things to downsize and prepare for a garage sale, watching a daughter leave home, getting a house ready to sell…alone. Without David. I was so tired. Emotionally drained.

Please, God. Just show me that you’re with me in this. In all of it.

After work, I just wanted to go home. But I needed to be someplace else.

I headed to a nearby building, where my required TB test would be read by a company nurse. Lacking an internal GPS, the last time I’d attempted to follow directions to the nurse’s office, I’d ended up in the lunch room. So it was with some trepidation I approached the front desk. A tiny woman was hunched over a newspaper, only the top of her head visible. When she looked up, I asked if she could page the nurse. Her eyes darting around nervously, she suggested I just head there. It occurred to me, as a volunteer, she might not know how to operate the phone system.

“I got lost the last time I came,” I laughed as I explained, and her face brightened. She jumped from her chair with an energy that belied her obvious age.

“Then I’ll take you there,” she said as she approached from behind the desk. She held out her hand. Taken aback, I hesitated for a moment, but her friendly smile left me no choice. It would be rude to refuse.

Hand-in-hand, we started walking.

“Now, just pay attention, and watch where I take you, so you can find your way back,” she said in a voice so gentle, I unexpectedly felt a lump form in my throat. Her hand was warm, her clasp firm, as she guided me through a room, down a short hallway, and through a doorway. I recognized the winding hallway lined with potted plants.

“I know where I am now,” I said, pointing to the end of the hall. “I just go that way and around the corner.”

“I’ll show you a better way.” The delight in her voice was unmistakable. She seemed glad to make my trip easier. “Just go right through this door, and you’re there!”

She didn’t let go of my hand until we’d stepped through the doorway together.

“But you made this so easy,” I marveled. “Thank you.” She smiled before turning away to return to the desk.

A room, a hallway, two doorways… Previous routes had included steps, elevators, a trip through a closed courtyard. I felt foolish as I blinked back tears, pondering the encounter.

The welcoming gesture of an extended palm. The unexpected warmth in holding a stranger’s hand. The gentle voice guiding me as if I were a child. The sudden ease in finding my way. This had been no random meeting. There was a message in it.

“I’m here. In the prayer from a colleague. In the stranger at the front desk. The hand you miss so much is with me, but I will bring you other hands. I am with you and I will guide you. Trust me.” 

Isaiah 41:13: For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (NIV)

Mother’s Day Masterpiece

I’m speaking at a church this morning; about mothers, creativity, and faith, as I culminate months of writing about the same topics. The message I hope to convey is that God has given each of us gifts, and it is up to us to use them.
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
My mother knew this. She lived it every day as she raised ten children, practiced her faith, and injected creativity into all aspects of her life.

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While she produced many pieces of beautiful art, in the end, her life of faith had been her greatest masterpiece, the legacy she left behind for her children and grandchildren.

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While I still have work to do to meet the end of May deadline, in honor of my mother on Mother’s Day, I’m sharing a small piece that comes at the end of my book, a brief, illustrative moment with my mother at the end of her life.

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It was an unseasonably warm October day. Mom and I had conversed comfortably in the car on the way to and from her radiation appointment; about my recent blog posts that mentioned her, the LIVE sign I’d purchased, and her concern over her cat being attacked by some feral felines. I’d assumed if she’d wanted to discuss more serious topics, she’d have brought them up.
Back at her house, I helped her out of the car. She swayed a little as she stood, and I grabbed her arm to steady her. She clung to me as we made our way to her back door. Mom expressed the desire to stay outside, so I settled her in a chair before getting her coffee and cigarettes. Setting them on the small white table in front of her, I asked if she’d be alright if I headed home to make supper for David and the children. She assured me she would. I can remember leaning down to kiss her cheek, and while I’m certain I would have told her I loved her, I can’t recall actually saying the words.
Once inside the car, I started the engine before glancing back at Mom. She was looking straight at me, a smile on her face. She raised her hand slightly, giving a little wave. It was that one small gesture that undid me. My throat filled with tears and I could barely breathe. I looked away so she wouldn’t see me cry. My mother is dying, I thought as I headed down the driveway. My mother is dying. I sobbed all the way home.
There is so much we didn’t talk about that day. In fact, we hadn’t mentioned death or dying in any of our conversations since her diagnosis. I’d been with her when the doctor informed her she had lung cancer, had heard her whispered “I wondered what it would be.” We never talked about fear, or even faith, which surprised me, considering how important her religion was to her.
More than six years after her death, in early 2017, when I re-read letters Mom had written, her Memory Book, and the odd notebooks and partial journals I’d inherited, I realized she’d already said it all, had managed to impart her faith and knowledge in the life she’d lived. There was nothing more to say. Her last lesson was in facing death with dignity, grace, and the firm belief she would soon be joining both our father and Our Father.
She surprised me, this mother of mine, appearing in this manuscript in ways I had not imagined, her words neatly written in her perfect penmanship. It was a delight when my father unexpectedly made an appearance in the ninth chapter, and healing when a poem about my grandson erupted from the ashes of grief.
As I culminate months of writing, in my mind’s eye, I see my mother sitting outside at that little table, a cigarette in her hand, a cup of coffee in front of her. Her face is lit by a beatific smile, her eyes filled with love. She lifts her hand, giving a little wave.
“I love you, Mom,” I say this time, waving back.

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Hope Springs Eternal…Still Writing

Both the Marys will be presenting at the Cedar Falls Christian Writer’s workshop in June; I’ll speak on Leaving a Legacy of Creativity and will also conduct a workshop on Writing Non-fiction Book Proposals. Mary Jedlicka Humston’s breakout session is titled “When Life’s Challenges Challenge Your Writing.”

I believe part of the reason I have been persistently and consistently writing for the last thirty years is due to the example of mentors who never stop writing, no matter what is going on in their life. That, and I’m pretty sure I would go stark raving mad if I did not take the time for writing.

One of those mentors is C. Hope Clark. I’ve considered C. Hope Clark a mentor ever since I read The Shy Writer. (since updated as The Shy Writer Reborn) As a fellow introvert, I wasn’t sure how I would face book-signings or public speaking, but thanks to her book and a great deal of hands-on experience, I’m now comfortable with both. Not only have I discovered a few markets for my writing from her FundsforWriters newsletter, Hope’s column and the short articles in it taught me a lot about the writing world. You can find some of them reprinted in the Best of FundsforWriters Vol. I. The fact that she actually took the time to reply to my e-mail with good advice when I asked about promotion and marketing shortly before my Coupon Crazy was released in 2013 facilitated that mentorship. Now, I follow her closely on Facebook, and respect her opinion on issues related to writing and publishing.  This photo popped up on Hope’s Facebook page recently, followed by her comment Still writing. 

Hopes leg

When friends and well-wishers urged her to take it easy, to watch videos, and rest up, Hope added “Husband is down with a bad disc, and I’m guardian for both Alzheimer’s parents. Though in a nursing home, I have to get them to doctors and such, manage their finances, etc. Am trying to close a deal on their house next week. Several book appearances. The garden is planted and now needs weeding and the chickens have to be tended daily. So….I’m sort of worn out. But there really isn’t an alternative to just keep on doing.”

Talk about challenges! But Hope continues to write. In fact, she is working on a sequel to her newly released Newberry Sin, Book 4 in the Carolina Slade mystery series, which I recently interviewed her about.

Tell us about your fiction books and your newest release.
The fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries, “Newberry Sin” is set in an idyllic small Southern town where blackmail and sex are hush-hush until they become murder. Slade holds an investigative position with Agriculture similar to what I had. She works alongside Senior Special Agent Wayne Largo, a badge and gun-totin’ real agent with a specialty in agriculture. She loves her rural South Carolina almost as much as her family, and both are displayed front and center in both books. She might not understand how a real agent would investigate, but she usually gets her guy, with Wayne often grumbling about her methods along the way. Her family’s been sucked into her cases a time or two, raising the tension, and if they aren’t involved, they have catastrophes of their own. She’s spunky with dialogue that tends to kick up dust along the way. I have to say I love this woman. And she has a pretty strong fan club.

The Edisto Island Mysteries are entertaining in their own way. Set on a real island in the South Carolina Lowcountry, Callie Jean Morgan, born and raised in the Carolinas, leaves a dysfunctional family and moves north, marrying a Bostonian, both working in law enforcement. He dies as a result of one of her caseiddled with guilt and faced with a teenage son to raise, she returns to South Carolina. Her mayor dad gives her the deed to the family vacation home on Edisto Beach, and from there she builds her life back.
The characters in this book are to die for. They are colorful, humorous, and unique, much like you’d find amongst natives of a beach community. Tourism comes into play, and the series is as much about Callie’s growth as an individual as the crimes solved.


There are four Edisto mysteries with a fifth under contract. And by the way, this fifth will also find Slade from the first series, visiting Edisto and crossing Callie’s path. A fun experience for fans of both books.

To learn more about C. Hope Clark, or her books, click HERE.

Hope
Follow her on Facebook HERE.

Book Review: How To Stop Time

Book Review written by Mary Jedlicka Humston

The books Mary and I typically review contain themes dealing with friendship or letter writing. The novel How to Stop Time by Matt Haig doesn’t have either. Instead, readers become privy to the sad effects of characters living without the steady presence of loved ones and friends.

how to stop time
Haig’s time-travel sci-fi novel masterfully creates a diagnosis of anageria for his main character Tom Hazard. Anageria is a rare, unique condition where growing older happens so slowly that one’s appearance remains young despite their age.
That’s the opposite of progeria which is a real genetic disease affecting 1 out of 4 million births according to a study from the Netherlands listed on Wikipedia. With progeria, infants age prematurely, forcing children and teens into elderly men and women despite being decades younger.
To add credence to the anageria reality in this novel, Haig explains that this condition that Tom and a small number of others possess never became public knowledge. Let me explain one reason why. Tom was born in 1581 in France and bounces around in time and country. In his first “round” he is raised by a wonderful mother. He later marries and has a child, but fears for their lives when witchcraft suspicions are bandied about because Tom’s youthful appearance never changes.

When tragedy strikes, Tom shields himself from the pain of relationships by trying to avoid them altogether. This creates conflicts in present-day England where Tom chooses to teach history, of all subjects, at the high school level!

“Yes, there had been a void inside me, but voids were underrated. Voids were empty of love but also pain. Emptiness was not without its advantages. You could move around in emptiness.” (Page. 233-234).

This book intrigued me to the end with its many plot twists. I believe it will do the same for others who want to see what happens when a character lives within a void of friendships and loved ones.

I highly recommend it even if you’re not a sci-fi lover. Give a try.

Spoiler alert: There is a happy ending!

One week in…National Card and Letter Writing Month

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How could I have let a week of April go by without mentioning that this month is National Card and Letter Writing month? The U.S. Postal Service officially designated it so in 2001 “to raise awareness of the importance and historical significance of card and letter writing.”

Neither Mary needs a month dedicated to letter-writing to coax them into writing letters, but we certainly couldn’t let the month go by without some mention on our blog that is dedicated to letter-writing, friendship, and good books.

Speaking of blogging, this Mary (Mary PK) is headed to a blogging panel at the Cedar Falls library this afternoon.

blogging panel

I began my Mary Potter Kenyon blog in June 2009, nearly nine years ago. The blog tagline was “Housewife Writer Dishes on Writing,” and I mostly wrote about mothering, couponing, and well…writing.  My youngest child would turn six the following month, which coincidently would also be when I began work on a book that would become Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America’s Extreme Obsession.  I’ve signed six book contracts in the ensuing years, so this “housewife” must have been doing something right on the writing front. Now my blog is also my website, with the inelegantly dubbed heading; “Author, Public Speaker, Workshop Presenter.” I began another blog, “Crazy Couponer: Tales from the Dark Side of Couponing” in anticipation for the release of that book, sharing pieces of my work-in-progress, (yes, Virginia, there is a dark side to couponing, and you can read about it in my book) along with stories and photos of my own super savings shopping trips and my transition from coupon box to coupon binder.  That was a fun blog to maintain, but a person only has so much time, and with two new books coming out in 2014, something had to give.

And sometimes, that something is blogging. This blog, “Mary & Me,” was created in November 2014, in anticipation of Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink, with the post-writing duty shared by my co-author. I expect it will keep going as long as we have books to review and letter-writing and friendship topics to share.

On that “note,” isn’t it time you celebrated April by writing a letter of your own?

Expressive Writing for Healing

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Mary’s poetry, age 16

I have a history of writing my way through difficult periods in my life, with angst-ridden poetry in my teens, through a manuscript I completed during my husband’s cancer treatment in 2006, and blogging about grief after my mother’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent death in 2010. I’d assumed the reason I turned to the journaling format as I mourned my husband in 2012 was because it came naturally as a writer. Weeks into my grief journey, however, I wondered how anyone could survive the experience without writing about it.
Through research, I discovered that expressive writing can be a powerful healing tool for anyone, not just writers. Dr. James Pennebaker, Regents Centennial Chair of Psychology at the University of Texas in Austin, is often lauded as the pioneer in studying expressive writing as a route to healing. He discusses his findings in Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressive Emotions, revealing how short-term, focused writing can have a beneficial effect for anyone dealing with stress or trauma.

pennebaker
In his original study in the late 1980s, college students wrote for twenty minutes on four consecutive days about the most traumatic or upsetting experiences of their lives, while control subjects wrote about superficial topics. Those in the experimental group showed marked improvement in immune-system functioning and had fewer visits to the health center in the months following the study.

Pennebaker’s original expressive writing paradigm has been replicated in hundreds of studies since then, each measuring different potential effects of expressive writing. Not only has subsequent research confirmed his original finding regarding physical well-being, writing about emotionally charged topics has also been shown to improve mental health, reducing symptoms of depression or anxiety. This has proven true in studies with those who have experienced loss, veterans experiencing PTSD, as well as cancer patients. Expressive writing is now an accepted holistic and nonmedicinal method for wellness.

expressive writing
For anyone new to expressive writing, I include these suggestions for beginning the practice in my newly-released journal Expressive Writing for Healing and through the workshops I conduct:
1. Choose a notebook or journal that fits your personality, that you can comfortably write in. A beautiful leather-bound journal might be too intimidating to begin with. Perhaps it will be a journal with a cover that has special meaning to you; a butterfly, dragonfly, or a Bible verse. Or maybe you’ll prefer to begin with a simple notebook with pages that can easily be torn out. Just the physical act of handwriting can be therapeutic, but if you are more comfortable writing on a computer, that works too.
2. There are no rules for journal writing. Cross out sentences, scribble on the sides of the paper, doodle or draw on the pages. Don’t worry about sentence structure or grammar. This writing is for you and not an audience. You can’t help yourself if you’re holding back, afraid to be honest about what you’re feeling. Feelings and emotions can be messy, so it’s perfectly fine if your journal is, too.
3. Write down your dreams, both literal and figurative. Do you have dreams and desires for your future? Write them down. In a couple of years, you may look back and see some of those dreams have become reality. Our subconscious also works hard at processing significant changes in our life. Have you had any particularly vivid nighttime dreams? Write those down, too. I’ve solved daytime dilemmas and come up with wonderful ideas in my dreams, so I like to keep a notebook by the bed to jot them down.
4. If you are reading inspirational books or articles, copy passages or quotes that speak to you. When I read something particularly inspiring or uplifting that resonates with me, I copy pertinent passages or quotes in my journal. I’ve often referred to those past journals and can still find inspiration and encouragement from the words I chose to transcribe. C.S. Lewis once wrote “We read to know we are not alone.”
5. Date your journal entries and try to end them on a positive note. Can you find even one thing to be grateful for each time you journal? By ending your journal entry on a positive note—with words of thanks or perhaps a prayer—you are training yourself to consciously choose joy and gratitude. Some people like to keep a separate gratitude journal, listing little blessings and good things that happen each day. This practice works because it forces you to intentionally focus your attention on grateful thinking, eliminating unwanted, ungrateful thoughts and guarding against taking things or people for granted. You want gratitude to become a habit, so practicing it in your journal helps that happen.

Mary graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in Psychology. A certified grief counselor and founder of the annual Heal Your Grief retreat in Dubuque, Iowa, Mary conducts Expressive Writing for Healing workshops for churches, libraries, community colleges or grief support groups. Contact her at marypotterkenyon@gmail.com for more information. 

 

Book Review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

by Mary Jedlicka Humston

If you haven’t read Me Before You or the sequel After You by Jojo Moyes, you will still find the newest Louisa Clark (Lou) novel filled with Moyes’ trademark humor, emotion, and engrossing storyline.

still me

Readers of Still Me can’t helped but be swept away by scrappy Lou’s (mis)adventures as she paves a new life in the U. S. far from her British home.
Hired to assist and cater to the young, new wife of the uber-rich Mr. Gopnik, Lou finds herself thrust into the elite, superior society of the very, very wealthy. Yet, she is still Lou; comfortable with everyone from the doorman to the women who own a vintage clothing store to protesters trying to save a dying public library.
There’s also Margot DeWitt, a cranky neighbor with an overbearing, tiny but tenacious dog. Lou discovers everything isn’t always as it seems when it comes to Margot.
Along the way, Lou seems to lose a little bit of herself. Letters from the past, written by Will who is a main character in the book and movie Me Before You, come to her at the right time. The letters (sent by Will’s mom) end up reminding Lou to look beyond the “outer” person into the “inner soul” to realize what’s important in life.
Regular readers of this “Mary & Me” blog know that we Marys often review books that pertain to friendship and letter writing. This book combines both. I highly recommend it.
Enjoy!