From Publishers Weekly
"A life ago," Barr writes, "I was depressed, broke, homeless, unemployed and divorced." One evening she wandered into an Episcopal church, primarily because it was unlocked. Desperation, not interest in religion, had brought her there, but warmly accepting parishioners kept her, and soon she wanted to be confirmed. "I went to the priest and asked him if it would be okay considering I didn't accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior, didn't believe the Bible was divinely inspired and wasn't entirely sure about the whole God thing. Fortunately Father Andrew had been tending his flock long enough to recognize a lost lamb when one came bleating into his office and put no obstacles in my way." It was a turning point for Barr, who here describes the resulting changes in her life and thinking over the last six years. Readers of Barr's bestselling mystery series featuring park ranger Anna Pigeon might have hoped for a whole book full of enlightenment about Anna's creator. However, apart from the introduction and occasional anecdotes throughout, her first nonfiction work is more a collection of personal essays than spiritual memoir. In more than 40 short chapters, she looks at topics as varied as forgiveness, girlfriends, being ordinary, Halloween and of course hats, usually saying more about how she thinks life should be lived than about how she actually lives hers. Nevertheless, Barr's sassy style, self-deprecating sense of humor and trenchant observations make for a good-and, yes, enlightening-read.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
There is something about having survived a serious bout of clinical depression that causes a person to look inward in an effort to find meaning. For popular mystery writer Nevada Barr, author of the Anna Pigeon series, depression set off a chain of events that led her to embrace religion and spirituality. In these short essays, she charts the course of her spiritual evolution, how she sought to understand the many aspects of spiritual life, from forgiveness ("a sigh of relief on which the memory of evil is breathed out ") to pain ("it is a duty to relieve our own pain") to commitment ("not a contract with the world but with the self"). Barr's account of her transformation from nonbeliever to committed churchgoer--but one who maintains a healthy sense of doubt even as she prays and attends Bible studies--is moving but never saccharine. Her conclusion that one can believe in God (or any other higher being) and still live a life based on logic should appeal to other skeptics. Managing to be inspirational as well as practical, Barr finds in spirituality a way to get beyond self-centeredness: "It was a number of years of crashing and burning in the personal arena before I made the discovery that I was not God." Mary Frances WilkensCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved