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Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way Hardcover – July 28, 2010

308 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Niequist (Cold Tangerines) returns with an often humorous and always contemplative series of personal essays on bittersweet experiences, illustrating through her own life that "rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness." Spiritually, the book bravely sets out to decipher the paradoxically co-dependent nature of happiness and grief. But Niequist's title should not be seen as simply a convenient theological metaphor; i t is also a literary device. Impressively, many of Niequist's perfectly concocted chapters weave in culinary themes, evoking the sensory, physical experience of the bittersweet along with the spiritual sense of it. When writing of deep friendship and the loss that sometimes accompanies it, her narrative often revolves around a dinner table, a cooking club, or a farmer's market. Niequist's ability to describe the sensation of eating a peppery arugula salad punctuated with sweet blueberries is just as evocative as her ability to express the intricacies of love, loss, hope, and doubt. Readers of all faiths will find this book courageous, sincere, poetic, and profound. There's nothing bitter in this sweet treat of a spiritual memoir.

From Booklist

This very personal book offers a modest, gentle, and, yes, bittersweet reflection on life and life-changing moments. In a collection of interweaving essays, Niequist provides “an ode to all things bittersweet, to life at the edges, a love letter to what change can do in us.” To Niequist, change is a good thing even if “incredibly painful.“ In a short period of time, she became pregnant, lost a job she loved, had a baby, and wrote a book. She didn’t lose her faith as much as lost track of it. These short pieces capture moments when her world seemed to be spiraling out of control. Stunned by the loss of her beloved grandmother, she discovers that the best way to honor her life is to live in simplicity and kindness. Bittersweet is full of such small but important lessons of daily living, about how to live life again “after the brokenness.” Niequist firmly believes that it is the stories of ordinary people that can make a difference in people’s lives. “There is nothing small or inconsequential about our stories,” she concludes. “There is, in fact, nothing bigger.” --June Sawyers

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (July 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310328160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310328162
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (308 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Her newest project, a 365-day devotional called Savor, will be available in March.

She is married to Aaron, and they have two wild & darling boys, Henry & Mac. They live outside Chicago, where Aaron leads The Practice and is recording a project called A New Liturgy.

Shauna also writes for the Storyline Blog, and for IF:Table, and she is a guest teacher at her church, Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL.

Shauna's three great loves are her family, dinner parties, and books, and she believes that vulnerable storytelling, hard laughter, and cold pizza for breakfast can cure almost anything.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Susan M. on August 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I know a book is great when I start underlining multiple quotes in each chapter. I know a book is becoming a favorite when I start to write out those underlined quotes and put them around my house and office as reminders to myself...and then send them to friends who I feel can relate to those words too. I have done all three with Bittersweet.

Shauna Niequist has a way of putting into words the way I feel but can't always express. I appreciate her transparency and ability to write about the things we all struggle with, but are sometimes scared to say out loud. She gets that life is too precious to just float through. And with that refreshing perspective, sometimes it means celebrating really great moments and sometimes it means acknowledging really tough ones and helping each other through them. The best part about this book: she finds the beauty & hope in the tough moments of her life and she helps readers look for that same hope & beauty in their own stories.

Whether you're experiencing a really sweet season of life, a really bitter one, or somewhere in between like me, this book has something for you. It will make you think, leave you feeling encouraged, and give you that added dose of bravery & encouragement we all need when life gets tough. I highly recommend this book!
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By J. Janosz on September 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Recently, I received an advanced review copy of Shauna Niequist's soon-to-be released memoir/blog style book from Zondervan - Bittersweet. I loved both the topic (thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way) and the cover photo with its crumbly chocolate cookie.

Shauna's writing makes you feel like you have joined an inner circle of really cool 20-something girlfriends, the type of friends who are at different stages of single, married, and mom-life, yet still squeeze in time for blogging, freestyle impromptu Italian dinners, and long talks over chai tea. Her book is equal part reflection, honesty, advice, and food. She made me hungry, not just for the bounty of farmer's markets, but also for those types of friends who can linger over coffee and bare their souls with one another.

Perhaps my favorite chapter was her writing on friendship. As I finished it, I sighed, wiped away a stray tear, and made another resolution to call all of the dear women who have drifted out of my daily life (you know who you are). She writes:

"Share your life with the people you love, even if it means saving up for a ticket and going without a few things for a while to make it work. There are enough long lonely days of the same old thing, and if you let enough years pass and if you let the routine steamroll your life, you'll wake up one day, isolated and weary, and wonder what happened to all those old friends. You'll wonder why all you share is Christmas cards, and why life feels lonely and bone-dry. We were made to live connected and close . . .

So walk across the street, or drive across town, or fly across the country, but don't let really intimate loving friendships become the last item on your long to-do list. Good friendships are like breakfast.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Cholley on August 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone who is looking to get out of a rut or to find grace in the everyday this book is for you!! Shauna is unbelievably honest and forthright about life, love, food, wine and how hard it is to figure out who you are. She pushes you to be your best self in the most unassuming way. I highly, highly recommend this book and will be waiting unpatiently for her next book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Gonzalez on August 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bittersweet is a fantastic read! I loved Shauna's first book, Cold Tangerines but Bittersweet is totally captivating and much deeper and richer and transparent and amazingly evocative. Reading about her life experiences, her struggles, and lessons learned drew me in immediately and in surprising ways. This book is undoubtedly transformative. It will cause you to think about your own life experiences and your lessons learned and it will give you hope too if you're in a season of darkness and struggle. This book will unquestionably, make you ravenous for all the rich and sweet things life has to offer. Shauna's stories are real, honest, organic and laced with humor. Her writing is brilliant because of her creative and clever expressions. This book caused me to think about my own life experiences and struggles over and over as I kept reading her stories. There are many tender stories in Bittersweet that tugged on my heart strings and made me weep. I cried for her, I cried for me and I cried for the many who experience pain because pain has such an interesting and profound and powerful way of causing us to grow if we let it. I'm grateful for how God has shaped and molded this extraordinary human being and I'm grateful for her sticktoitiveness and the courage it took to write this book and to share these stories. Thank you Shauna! I believe everyone who reads Bittersweet will be richer for it. Through this book, she helped me understand that telling our stories is impactful, transformative and more importantly, healing. I also learned that our lives are stories laced by grace, God's grace and there is nothing sweeter than grace which is available to each and every one of us, every single day.
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