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The Next Happy: Let Go of the Life You Planned and Find a New Way Forward
When the best option is to let go of the life you planned for yourself and find a new path, a world of possibilities can surprisingly open up.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (December 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250014638
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250014634
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a wise and encouraging guide."—Vanity Fair

"A wonderfully literary guide to life."—Atlanta Magazine

"Braving the Fire is the best book about memoir writing I've read. Jessica Handler provides a brilliant, empathic, and sturdy guide to help us begin, develop, and complete a work of art dealing with those difficult subjects we might fear exploring but which will become the wellspring of our most profound work."—Louise DeSalvo, author of Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives

"Read this book! Braving the Fire is brilliant, profound, thorough, and a delight. Through writing, it takes you to the core of your loss, honoring the uniqueness of your voice and ultimately revealing the beauty and power of your story, whatever it may be." —Susan Zimmerman, author of Keeping Katherine and Writing to Heal the Soul

"Jessica Handler beautifully illustrates how the power of our stories —well captured and conveyed— can heal our deepest sorrows. Braving the Fire is much more than a book by an eloquent writer for other writers. It is a must read for those who wish to live a life of transparency and to write with honesty about the journey."—River Jordan, author of Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit

"Braving the Fire is a necessary companion for any writer who wishes to write about grief. Handler gently and honestly states the difficulty and rewards of recording our most haunting stories. There is a silver bullet of hope in this guide: the remembrances of our lost loves may very well be the key to living vivid lives, healing in technicolor."—Christa Parravani, author of Her

About the Author

JESSICA HANDLER has written on the topic of writing through grief for The Writer magazine and Psychology Today online, and has been a featured speaker in grief and writing workshops. Her first book, Invisible Sisters: A Memoir has been named by the Georgia Center for the Book as one of the “Twenty Five Books All Georgians Should Read,” and is one of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Eight Great Southern Books in 2009.” She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Customer Reviews

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This book is an excellent resource.
Orkblork
Braving the Fire is as brilliant a book for those of us writing about loss as Vivian Gornick's The Situation and the Story is for memoir writing in general.
Abigail Thomas
Now, Handler provides a writing guide for how and why she writes her way through grief toward understanding, and how the rest of us can, too.
Tracy Crow

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Dubrow on December 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
It's hard to even begin to think about writing about loss since the pain so often stops us in our tracks, but Handler's guide shows us how to make that journey. I enjoyed the contributions by other authors, but I liked Handler's inclusion of her own story the best.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laurel Dowswell on January 20, 2014
Format: Paperback
Loss is about endings, and beginnings. Jessica Handler's guide allows the reader to reflect upon grief and loss with wisdom, comfort, and humor, while showing the writer how to take action to heal, to share, and create a great story. After reading her incredible memoir, Invisible Sisters, I waited with great anticipation of the release of this book. Whether you have suffered the loss of a loved one, a career, or other types of grief and loss, Braving the Fire is a must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary Elizabeth on December 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a wonderful book for beginners and experienced writers alike, a guide for turning big, blurry, inarticulate emotion into concrete expression. It's cathartic just to read a book like this, but it will be most useful for those who wish to write about what might be their most difficult material in a serious way, maybe not just for themselves but for an audience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Orkblork on April 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book is for the unpublished writer who had a tragic life event he or she wishes to write about. I don't necessarily fit this profile, but I am writing a memoir and I teach nonfiction writing classes. So I turned to this book for some fresh insights for myself and especially for my students. I was not disappointed. While there wasn't one specific piece of advice that jumped out, in the aggregate the book stirred lots of ideas, such that I found myself making copious notes while reading. And the author references many excellent memoirs to effectively illuminate her points, making for excellent additions to one's reading list. (Or to encourage one to re-reading a familiar memoir with a more nuanced eye and ear, as I will be doing with Abigail Thomas' "A Three Dog Life.")

My main criticism of the book is its physical formatting. There are dippy little scrolls between the chapter subsections and in the margins that detract from the seriousness of the content. The chapter subheadings themselves are in a highly decorative, swirly script that is barely legible. I found myself skipping them, then halfway through a section I'd have to go back to check the name of the section I was reading. And the Kubler-Ross grieving model felt like a force-fit for the chapter titles. But these are quibbles. This book is an excellent resource.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Ann Guthrie on February 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I live in Atlanta and was lucky enough to take a 5 hour writing workshop with Ms. Handler in February of 2014. We used the book in the workshop. It is excellent and could be used for any type of writing, not just loss. Those of us in the class, had all had significant traumas in life, and we found Jessica Handler an expert in dealing with this subject. She has grace, personal experience, writing knowledge that can't be matched, and wonderful, wonderful, humor. Add this book to your shelf. It is a must for those interested in perfecting their writing. Melanie Guthrie, Atlanta, GA
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Crow on December 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have used Handler's memoir, INVISIBLE SISTERS, as a text in my college creative writing classes, and my students rave about how masterfully Handler renders art from grief. Now, Handler provides a writing guide for how and why she writes her way through grief toward understanding, and how the rest of us can, too. I look forward to using BRAVING THE FIRE as an additional classroom text.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By e h connaughton on January 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Fantastic. I first read Jessica Handler’s memoir, Invisible Sisters, in which she beautifully chronicles her experience as the lone survivor of three siblings. In this book, Handler guides us through her own journey, from grief to acceptance, and ultimately to a greater understanding of how, through writing, loss can transform us. Infused with Handler’s wit, insight and generous spirit, Braving the Fire is a practical guide for anyone struggling to make sense of tragedy.
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Format: Paperback
.. and the book, became mine instead. My friend's mother had died, and I thought this book was for her. When I wrote my friend, it turned out she had her own copy already. She had bought it as soon as the book was released and was already falling in love with it and using it for her own insights. So much impact for her, that she gave "Braving the Fire" to her sister, her dad, and an aunt. So, I never told my friend I had bought her an autographed copy, with her name on it. (I may ask her if she would like to trade books, sometime!)

But I had already heard Jessica read aloud from her book. She read the passage about a trip she took to Memphis, the year after her father died… and her unexpected discovery of a long-ago picture of her father at the National Civil Rights Museum. She almost skipped visiting the museum because she was so very sure that everything she saw there would have been learned at her father's knee, but that she would be unhappy with herself if she left Memphis without paying last respects. "…what's indelible in my memory is a photograph I came face-to-face with at the end of an exhibit leading to the exit. The photograph was a black-and-white shot of my father, sitting on a curb in Memphis four days after Martin Luther King was killed. My father is holding a white placard reading HONOR KING: END RACISM. Beside him is another man holding a placard reading UNION JUSTICE NOW. Both men …look exhausted..: their expressions as they look directly into the camera are unmistakeable… The caption on the picture…called the two men "unidentified." But to me this was not an unidentified man. This was my father. Someone watching me would have seen a woman approaching a photograph, stopping in her tracks, gasping once, and bursting into tears.
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More About the Author

Jessica Handler is the author of "Invisible Sisters: A Memoir." She has been the Peter Taylor Nonfiction Fellow at the Kenyon Review, and her work has received "Special Mention" for a 2008 Pushcart Prize. "Invisible Sisters" is an Atlanta Magazine "Best of 2009 Must Read" selection.

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Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss
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