Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself - by Katie Ganshert

This was an amazing book I had a hard time putting down!  I really liked the dual way of telling the story, with the point of view going back and forth from Carmen to her half-sister Gracie.  Carmen is a meteorologist on TV who's used to projecting a certain image to the world even if her world is crumbling.  She's lost baby after baby to miscarriages and feels distant from her husband and God, who she's not sure she believes in anymore.  Gracie is seventeen and being raised by their alcoholic mother.  She's used to watching out for herself until her mom decides to send her to live with her father.  She decides instead to run away and go to the beachfront motel run by their great-aunt that she used to visit as a child, but when she gets there, discovers it's boarded up and vacant.  She decides to stay there anyway.  Carmen gets called by the police and finds her there and takes her in.  She struggles with guilt over not looking out for her sister all these years even though she knew their mom had a problem.

Carmen's side of the story focuses on her struggle with reaching Gracie and trying to figure out if her marriage is worth saving if she doesn't get a baby that they're now trying to adopt.  She also decides to restore the motel, partly because some of her best memories are there, like when she met and fell in love with her husband, and partly for her great-aunt, who's now in a nursing home struggling with dementia.  She wants to give her a great Christmas there like they used to have.  Her father is also threatening to sell it and she's horrified by the idea that it will get razed and a fancy hotel put in its place.  Gracie wants to help, too.  She struggles with showing too much interest in anyone or anything so as not to get disappointed again, but she meets a boy soon after she arrives in town who defies her every expectation.

The characters were done so well, especially Gracie.  Her wisecracks made me laugh out loud.  It was interesting to see her try not to care when she obviously did and how she opened up more and more.  Her relationship with Elias was sweet and I liked the conversations they would have about faith and their lives.  He really made her think.  I think he was my second favorite character.  I felt a lot of sympathy for Carmen and her struggle.  I can't imagine the pain of losing your children and then waiting on pins and needles to see if you'll get chosen to adopt.  I did get frustrated with how she treated her husband because he seemed like such a great guy who always put her first.  I thought her struggle with God felt very real and honest.  She felt like she did everything right, so why didn't God give her a child?  I know I've felt entitled at times and I'm sure all Christians probably have, though that's not the right attitude to have.  We're not God.  There was a passage of Scripture from Isaiah that she read to her great-aunt that was what I needed to hear right when I read it and was feeling so tired with some health issues.  It's about God not fainting or growing weary; "his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength."  This book dealt with some tough issues, but in a hopeful way.  I absolutely loved it and would highly recommend it!

I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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