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review 2017-06-06 18:28
Book Review: The Way of Letting Go by Wilma Derksen
The Way of Letting Go (One Woman's Walk toward Forgiveness) - Wilma Derksen

I bought this book because exploring what forgiveness means is a passion of mine. I'm left ambivalent - relating my trauma to her trauma seems petty, but a trauma that requires the sheer hard work of learning to forgive on a soul level takes many shapes & sizes. I have to admire Derksen's commitment to this long (never ending) journey towards forgiveness - quite an amazing inspirational feat to take the terrible darkness that came into her life and turn it into a beacon of hope for others. To give (or at least find) meaning in a cruel meaningless act must take incredible courage & inner strength (& yes, a deep faith.) Derksen gives an excellent account of the process that forgiveness is but, as a Mennonite, her approach to forgiveness is strictly based on the Christian faith and that puts two strikes against the book (1) the odd and somewhat jarring interspersion of excerpts from the Bible too often came across as preaching and (2) forgiveness as a path to healing the brokenness within us is a human need - not just a Christian need. What about all the broken people of other faiths who may need to forgive? Is it only Christians who can find peace & redeem their lives through forgiveness? I would've liked to see Derksen explore what forgiveness means on a broader scale, rather than just from a narrow Christian perspective. Her trauma also comes across as intellectualised rather then allowing the reader to feel the depths of her emotional pain as Ralph Bulger did in "My James: The Heartrending Story of James Bulger by His Father, which was a howl of raw emotion from the first page to the last. But then Wilma Derksen has managed to do what the Bulger family are apparently struggling to do - her struggle toward forgiveness has given her daughter Candace's terrible death meaning & purpose while keeping her family and marriage together during the decades that have passed since her daughter's awful murder. That's a fantastic achievement and Derksen's struggle not to let hate & unforgiveness drag her down into the darkness is hugely admirable. The book is definitely worth the read (& I'll be re-reading it at some later stage) - a complex abstract concept (to forgive) is made simple and presented in an easy to read style.

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