19th Annual WRITER’S DIGEST Self-Published Book Awards
Recognition of Participation: Inspirational Category
Review by: Inspirational Category Judge
This is a beautiful book about a beautiful death, truly. With great skill, wisdom, and grace, the author shares a story that is both heart wrenching and heartwarming. Her authorial voice is solid from page one, right through to the end, and her “characters” are multidimensional and unique. She helps the reader fall in love with her, and with her husband, and then allows the story to unfold, while managing to avoid the dreaded sagging middle, where many memoirists often lose the story thread. This is a book filled with poetic images, poems, and diary entries, all of which work very well (which is not often the case). Sometimes her language leaves the reader swooning, with appreciation for the artful way she has written them and because they pierce right through to your soul.
Here’s a sample in the final chapter:
“This is what I went to Ireland to find—a return to the deep rhythm of my soul, a love for the wild, free shelters of my heart. And the experience of living in the thin places of my spirit where the brush of an angel’s wing is not uncommon.
Death carries the poetry of the unseen—the darkness, not only of grief and loss, but also of life’s most profound mystery. Grief unlocks the song of the soul in great waves of longing. We cry for the lost touch, the warmth of a body lying next to us, the comfort of the smile or soft word. But if we follow grief down the gaping hole it has bored through the heart, winding down and down as it spirals into unknown caverns of being, we may find there, not pain, but a love of unspeakable tenderness and a peace that affirms we are not alone.”
Ms. Eckl also provides a final section called “Questions for Reflection” that includes five very appropriate, focused, generous discussion topics that will help those caring for someone who is dying, as well as the person dying. If I knew anyone going through this experience, I would highly recommend this book—but it’s also a fabulous read for anyone, as we will all face the situation at some point in our lives, and Ms. Eckl paves the way for it to be an enriching experience.
It’s also beautifully printed on quality paper with subtle but lovely design elements. It is, by far, the best of the spiritual books, and the author deserves accolades, as she obviously devoted many hours to crafting her memoir and infusing it with grace. This was a labor of love, for her dying husband, for herself, and for anyone lucky enough to read the book. I read it through to the end, savoring every word.
I would give it 5s in every category:
Plot = 5
Character Development = 5
Grammar = 5
Cover Design/Production = 5