Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief gathers Diamante Lavendar's own insights on how she charted a path through grief, and pairs free verse poems that double as uplifting admonitions ("There is so much more/To every instance/Than we can comprehend.") with prose and the author's lovely color art images.
From illusions of darkness and separation to the realities of harboring false beliefs and following the road to healing, Lavendar's verse and insights follow the process of not only recovery; but finding the kind of empathy and understanding from the healing process that strengthens other connections in life.
The juxtaposition of nature-oriented images and art with these admonitions lends a visual touch to the written word that enhances both with a structure and reinforcement that either alone could not have achieved.
Those who will benefit most from Lavendar's approach are readers who are seeking their own paths to healing and greater enlightenment, who can accept her candid assessments of what the process of grieving leads to ("Death is not an ending but a beginning to a different reality, not only/for the bereaved but also for those who have passed into eternity.").
This audience will relish the message of Lavendar's art and words and will discover not just a quiet comfort offered within the pages of Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief, but a broader message that holds clues to finding strength from weakness and ultimately transforming grief into a growth experience.
Readers interested in finding opportunities from the great of adversities will keep Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief close at hand for reflection, inspiration, and ultimately transformation.
Probably more important than any in-action memoir could be. Indeed I think this book is more important to understand than Finkel's first book about these same soldiers when they were deployed in Iraq. Here we see the real cost of war, very few holds barred. We also see war widows and the wives and families of those who come home forever changed. If I came away with one clear idea, it is that war is never-ending and continues trying to kill you from the day you step foot back "home" until...forever, I suppose.
This book, or a book much like it, should be required reading for every American who hasn't served in one of our wars.
One of the things I regretted last summer was that I wasn't more in touch with the books selected for the Summer Reading program. So I decided as soon as the list was given to us that I would read as many books as I could so that I'd be better prepared for recommending them to our patrons. This is why I picked up Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan. The story is told through the eyes of Lydia, an 11-year old girl, who is super sensitive about her height...until she is chosen to be a Munchkin and Winged Monkey in her town's production of The Wizard of Oz where it suddenly becomes an advantage. She discovers that her height is just a small (no pun intended) part of her. She makes friends with a fellow cast member named Olive who is herself a dwarf as well as an older neighbor named Mrs. Chang who turns out to have many years of experience with the theater and costume making. My favorite part about this book was the main character, Lydia, who was absolutely hysterical.
An example from page 26-7 as she describes the director of the play she's performing in:
He is for sure older than my parents, who are old, because they are forty-two and forty-four. He might be super-super-super-old. Is he fifty-five? I have no idea.
Sloan totally gets the 'voice' of a child. They have zero concept of age (I've been told I'm 84 so I know from experience) and they also have zero reason to lie to you. Lydia is a well-rounded character who not only makes hilarious asides but also conveys depth of feeling.
When confronted with an awkward conversation about death:
My voice is small. I whisper, "Life is a cabaret." I don't even know what this means, but I heard Shawn Barr say it to Mrs. Chang a few days ago and they both laughed. It works, because she smiles. I'm guessing a cabaret is a kind of wine. I hope she'll have a tall glass. - pg 240
Overall, this was a delightful little read and I've been more than happy to recommend it to the children and parents at my library. If you're a fan of the theater or looking for a book full of heart (or both) well I think you've found your book match. ;-)
A/N: If you're triggered by repeated mentions of pet death then don't come near this book. It's not a spoiler to tell you this is a running theme throughout the book beginning in the first couple of pages. Grief is a large theme explored in this book but I didn't find it as compelling as the self-discovery/acceptance experienced by Lydia.
There are 2 different covers for this one and honestly I like them both quite a bit.
|Source: Barnes & Noble|
What's Up Next: The Royal Rabbits of London by Santa & Simon Sebag Montefiore
What I'm Currently Reading: Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World by Jennifer Palmieri