Saturday, March 28, 2015
My Review: The Art of Losing Yourself
This is a simply gorgeous cover! The first time I saw it, I just fell in love! I also love the title - it held new meaning the further I read. I was trying so hard to shorten my reviews, but this book just completely blew that up - so be prepared for a very long review. Hope you enjoy it anyway!
Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.
Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together. But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.
Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?
About the Author:
Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her husband, their young son, and their goofy black lab, Bubba. When she’s not busy writing or playing or reading or consuming chocolate, she is dreaming about the day her Congolese daughter can finally come home. You can learn more about Katie and her books by visiting her website at www.katieganshert.com.
My Review: 5 stars
Honestly, I picked up this book a little unsure whether I would like it or not. It sounded very different from Katie’s previous books. I shouldn’t have wondered though, because I absolutely loved it! I definitely had high expectations for this book, having loved all of her other books. I expected to be taken through a story that would tug my heart, inspire and encourage me, and also draw me in, most likely to the point of tears. It certainly did all of those, including the last one.
Katie is one of the few authors that can draw me in so entirely that I struggle to separate fiction from reality. Her characters spring right off the page and into my heart. Even though I may not completely understand what they are going through, she shows me, page by page, until I feel like I traveled the path with them. I could almost feel their pain, it was so palpable. I reached a point where I had to stop reading, because I could no longer see the words through the tears pouring down my face. For me, that makes this a wonderful book and Katie an excellent author. Even though the things she writes about may be a bit uncomfortable for us, they are so important. This book is made even more powerful, because of the added weight of her personal experience with the trials the characters go through.
This story is different from her previous ones in how it is presented. It comes from two point of views - Carmen’s and Gracie’s. Through their eyes, we see pain, fear, anger, and a multitude of other emotions. But the most important thing we see? Healing. Though they weren’t even aware of it as they struggled and fought to make something of the lives pain had almost destroyed, it’s there in the little things. I love that the title of this book made more and more sense the longer I read. It is intertwined in the very basis of the story and there were also several different interpretations for how it played into it.
Carmen and Gracie are so realistic! I actually had to remind myself that they are fictional characters, because they just became so real to me. I found myself almost praying for them a couple times, as well as wanting so badly to help them in some way. I loved that Katie was able to give them each such distinct voices. They don’t sound like any other characters I have ever “met.” They are so broken, so bruised by life. Watching them as they try to figure out where to go from here, how to keep moving. They both ask such heart wrenching questions, but reading them, I realized they resonated with me so much, because they are ones I’ve asked. I found myself crying out with them, asking where God is in those situations, why He allows the hard times. They are brutally honest, the heart cry of anyone who has ever tried to carry more than they can bear and found they aren’t strong enough. The most beautiful part in all of this - Katie didn’t try to wrap it up in a neat package. There are no cookie cutter answers, no platitudes. She shows the struggle, but she also shows God’s grace. I read this, thinking it was Carmen’s story, Gracie’s story, maybe even the story of countless people, but in the end, it’s God’s. It all leads back to Him in the end. He may not be mentioned on every single page, but He’s still there, woven throughout every word, every line. His love shows through this story, His grace. Even in the darkest moments, when it seemed they would be lost, He was there.
I never reached a place where I wanted to put the book down. More often than not, I was groaning mentally whenever I knew I had to stop and get something done. It kept me up late and I was right back at it at first opportunity. I would read for an hour, sometimes two, and not even notice the passing of time. I know some may read the synopsis and think this sounds like a boring book, but is it not. There is nothing slow about it. I was left guessing and asking questions ‘til the end.
I actually went into this book expecting a romance, but it ended up being so much more. There is a little bit of romance, but it is not the theme or even a major part of the story. There is some in passing, as Carmen and her husband work on their marriage, and Gracie has a guy friend (note: not a boyfriend). It was refreshingly absent, as it left the characters able to focus on things that seemed a bit more important.
I love the wisdom packed between these pages. I often found myself either writing down a line I wanted to remember, or else snapping a photo of it with my phone, so I wouldn’t lose it. There are so many quotes I could share, but then I might steal some of the fun of discovering them yourself. This is a book I seriously considered highlighting or underlining and I hate doing that to books. I prefer to keep them in near-perfect condition, but I was tempted.
I think the most surprising part of the story is how it ended. There is no pat “happily ever after” here. The characters still have things to deal with, they are by no means perfect now, but we’re left with hope. Hope, their future is bright. Hope, that they are finding their way again. Hope, that God is always there in the storms life throws at us.
A word of warning. If you’re looking for a feel-good “happily ever after” kind of story, then this may not be the book for you. It will grip your heart and emotions, pulling you into the messy lives of hurting people. It might make you cry, but it may also give you hope.
I received an advanced copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
I hope you enjoyed my review! I'm sorry it's so long! I find a book I adore and I just want to go on and on about it. :)
Unfortunately, this awesome book isn't out yet, so I can't say "run to your book store and grab a copy!" - BUT if you'd like to check it out some more, maybe consider supporting the author with a preorder, here are some links to get you started.
Barnes & Noble