Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Review: Tiny Beautiful Things

I've just finished one of the best books I've ever read. “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed.

This is my first book review on the blog. I won’t be doing too many of these. I read quite a bit (see: my-books-are-my-friends), I just don’t want to feel like I’m reading-to-blog.

Reading is something that I do for me. That said, if I read something that is simply phenomenal, that I need to share, I’ll write a review.

With that in mind, let’s get back to this book.

"Tiny Beautiful Things", by Cheryl Strayed, is a compilation of responses to people seeking guidance from an advice columnist called “Sugar” (Ms. Strayed). If the author’s name sounds familiar to you, it’s likely because of her more prominent work, an international best seller which was recently turned into an Oscar Nominated movie… Perhaps you've heard of it:

My Aunt, an exceptionally well read woman, has a saying about books: for each work of Fiction you read, read a work of Non Fiction. She's read everything, (a hyperbole... maybe). So when she called my mom and said Tiny Beautiful Things was, “one of the best books I've ever read”, we bought the book.

Because of the format of the book, query and advice, it was hard to read too many entries at a time. I generally read one or two, then stopped because they’d left me crying, or laughing, or raging in sympathy with the people who had written in to Sugar.

You’ll read about drugs, sex, love, abuse, friendship, religion, parents and loss. You’ll read about things you can never hope to understand, you’ll read about things you understand entirely. I would read a few entries and be left feeling completely raw, but happy about it.

What really got me about the book though was less the stories from people writing in, but the responses that Ms. Strayed gives as “Sugar”.

First, she is brutally honest, about her understanding (or lack thereof) for each entry. Each response shares a story about her life (which was hard lived), or the life of someone who she knows well, creating a bond between two seemingly unrelated things.

Most interestingly she's at times harsh, with a “get some perspective” attitude, while at the same time unbelievably loving toward those who write in to her. There is love dripping from every word she writes, which is what makes the book so incredible.

To the young bride-to-be feeling aggressive and anxious she writes: There's a day ahead that's a shimmering slice of your mysterious destiny. All you have to do is show up.

To the man who feels too ugly to ever be loved she writes: ... Love transforms us all. But you have to be fearless enough to let it transform you.

To the mom who is at her wits end with her kids she writes: When it comes to our children, we do not have the luxury of despair. If we rise, they will rise with us every time...

To her 22 year old self she writes: Be brave enough to break your own heart.

In summation, I implore you to read this book.

I IMPLORE you to read this book.

Read it if you’re a teenager, read it if you’re in your 60s

Read it if you’re straight, if you’re gay; if you have a great relationship with your parents, your kids, or if you don’t.

Read it if you’re broke, wealthy, strung out, happy, exhausted, wishful, non-monogamous, suffering or bored.

Read this book if you have everything figured out, or only some things, or nothing.

Read this book if you've ever loved and lost, or just loved… or just lost.

I implore you to read this book.