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In the Heart of Life: A Memoir Hardcover – September 24, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 1993, Eldon’s son, Dan, a Reuters photographer, was killed along with three fellow journalists by a mob in Somalia. Reeling from his death, Eldon published a best-selling collection of his richly illustrated journals, The Journey Is the Destination (1997), established the Creative Visions Foundation, and continues to do great things with her daughter and ex-husband to celebrate Dan’s life and work. Now, in this staggeringly intimate memoir, Eldon lays bare not only her shock and grief over the devastating circumstances of her son’s death but also the details of her failed marriage, her regretted indiscretions, and her struggle to find her own true purpose beyond wife-and-motherhood. Eldon is a very spiritual person and recounts some surprising experiences with channeling, spirit guides, and mediums. She acknowledges skepticism of these matters, however, and describes her encounters with the same straightforwardness with which she reveals ill-fated matters of the heart. Fans of Dan’s work will appreciate her unvarnished emotions and honesty, and book clubs will find much to discuss. --Colleen Mondor


Kathy Eldon is a powerhouse who has turned her own personal tragedy into a mega blast of creative energy and vision. She believes everyone can be a force for positive change as long as they do what they do with conviction. (Christiane Amanpour)

“Kathy Eldon has made something profoundly inspiring out of the unthinkably heartbreaking. A memoir of breathtaking honesty; a mother’s heartsong to her children; an elegy for her wild and inspiring son; a testimony to being fiercely engaged in the world; and a love story to East Africa”. (Alexandra Fuller)

“Kathy Eldon has written the kind of personal memoir that captures in exquisite, emotionally charged detail a life of adventure, love and loss-and ultimate redemption through creativity and activism. The story of her search for meaning challenges our beliefs and opens our hearts to new possibilities.” (Pat Mitchell, The Paley Center for Media)

“Kathy inspires women to believe that they can do more than simply survive; they can thrive, and passionately create the lives of their choice.” (Rosie O'Donnell, comedian, actress, and author)

“Kathy Eldon’s courage to live in the heart of life inspires all of us to live more soulfully, honestly, and passionately. By following her soul’s longings, she finds herself turning her pain into compassion and her failures into gifts. Her life is the true definition of a ‘hero’s journey.’” (Maria Bello, actor and activist)

“Kathy Eldon’s memoir is raw, honest, and instantly compelling-an amazing adventure of the heart that enlightens the soul. Thank goodness for this book and for the tremendous source of inspiration that is Kathy Eldon.” (Ricki Lake, television personality)

“This book compromised my sleep by keeping me up late at night; it impacted my work by compelling me to put aside things I needed to do so I could ‘just read a few pages.’ Kathy’s story is full of triumph and sorrow, heartbreak, and redemption. A remarkable read.” (Susan Stiffleman, author of Parenting without Power Struggles, therapist, and parenting expert)

The extraordinary memoir of a woman’s journey from Iowa to London to Kenya, from all that was safe and predictable to a transformative, dazzling, yet harrowing new life and existence-transforming the depths of pain to the heights of activism.” (Ann Haggart, Annenberg Foundation)

“In the Heart of Life is not just a memoir, but a journey of the soul looking for the light. We are taken on a stunning adventure of love, loss, hope, forgiveness, and dreams. A must read for anyone who has ever loved, lost, and still seeks the answers.” (Elinor Tatum, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Amsterdam News)

“Kathy Eldon shares an extraordinary tale-at times heartbreaking, at times exuberant. Every twist, every turn, every triumph and tragedy reflects a woman facing life’s most tender, vulnerable, scary moments and saying...YES. Her courage in embracing life inspires me to do the same.” (Lyndon Harris, founder, The Gardens of Forgiveness Project)

Kathy Eldon’s memoir is truly magnificent. Kathy has truly lived a glass-full life in spite of the terrible setbacks and I can only marvel at her tenacity for finding what is good in tragic circumstances and making all of us try to do better in our own lives. (Larry Kirshbaum, VP, Amazon Publishing)

“Kathy’s extraordinary story has been an inspiration for countless others seeking to fill their lives with purpose. Her ability to find meaning in - and transcend - suffering, and her experiences in America, Europe, and Africa remind us that the strength we look for is already inside each of us.” (Kweku Mandela)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062048627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062048622
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #539,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kathy Eldon has worked as a teacher, editor, journalist, and film and television producer. Following the death of her son, Dan, she and her daughter Amy launched Creative Visions Foundation to support "creative activists" like Dan, who use media to inform, inspire and empower positive change. CVF has incubated more than 85 projects and productions on seven continents (most recently with a screening in the Antarctic), touching the lives of more than 10 million people.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By daniela on May 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the parts of the book about her son Dan. But I was surprised that the first 200 pages (yes, 200!) were all about her own life, her personal relationships, her selfishness, etc. Yes, I realize it is her memoir but when you read the summary of the book, it is about her dealing with the death of her son. I wasn't expecting to read so much about her pathetic relationships. While Dan is incredible and Kathy has made something of her life now, I found her to be not very likable. She was somewhat arrogant about her desire to live in Africa - for instance, when she went to enjoy something simple in Nairobi, just enjoy it - no need to say how much she preferred this compared to staying at the Ritz (or something like that). It was like she kept making little digs at people who live suburban lives. Even the picture of her kids riding bikes, she bothered to mention that they weren't wearing helmets - is that to point out that suburban kids wear helmets - back in the day - I don't think anyone wore helmets. There were so many examples of this where she pointed out that she is not like the typical suburban mom. Just live the moment - no need to point these things out to us - we all can see that you chose to live a different kind of life. As an aside, I'm one of those people who spent a lot of time in Africa, have adopted a child from another country, but never felt the need to act superior to those who prefer less adventurous lives or more traditional, boring, suburban lives. It also seemed a little like an ad for all the other books she and Amy have written.

The end of the book was very good though, Dan was an amazing man, and I'm glad Kathy has found peace.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dalton on November 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book was a sundering surprise. I picked it up after midnight in my usual way, looking for an hour of an author's voice and then a return to much-needed sleep. What a mistake! When I turned the final page the next morning, I hadn't slept but I felt more awake, more alive than if I had. Kathy Eldon's wry, unvarnished and deeply affecting memoir is a literary breadcrumb trail left by a keen searcher, a seeker sharing her glimpses of meaning behind shards of destruction. Under a sheltering sky and across continents, she shape-shifts and reinvents herself in ways that stick with me. Most books just help you escape for awhile--this one does too, but it is an enlightening journey chock full of wisdom and surprises, and replaced my sleep with a renewed sense of wonder at a life lived so vividly, and reported so faithfully. It would make a fine, caring gift--but not for an insomniac!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By futurewave on June 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover
In the deepest pain a mother can feel, the death of her son, Kathy was able to give birth to a renewal of his spirit in an even grander gift to him and to the world. Her son Dan was a beautiful, courageous and sensitive man who found the injustices and cruelty of the world almost too much to bear. In Mogadishu he gave a needy child a coin -- only to watch in horror as other killed him to get the coin. His whole life was about giving, from setting up programs to help Africa in college to his photojournalism, giving a voice to the voiceless, Again and again the good he was doing was rewarded with pain, but he didn't give up. When he came to the aid of survivors of a Massacre, going with them to document their story, he and his colleagues were stoned to death -- just for trying to bring light to, to do good. How does a mother deal with that? Does she become bitter that "No good deed goes unpunished?" Hateful? Amazingly Kathy was able to carry on the good her son was doing in the face of pain, having faith that in the end doing good is the right thing and will prevail. I was swept away by her amazing courage in giving her son's spirit a way to live on through her. Out of his spirit, she created a wonderful foundation that continues to carry on amazingly good works!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Georgia King on May 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I am writing this review for one reason: It has been a very long time since I've read a book capable both of making me laugh out loud and sob to myself in the secrecy of some unseen place----such is the pathos and emotional jar of this phenomenal memoir. Like Moss Hart's "Act One," Kathy Eldon's book has taken memoirs to a new level: one of that sublime level that we might call "divine," since it touches and uplifts us in ways that we cannot seem to understand. I bought this book after reading the first chapter of it at the Barnes & Noble store on Union Square (here in New York City) and was so entranced by it that I kept reading all the way home on the subway and well past my bedtime in the shadowy lights of my bedroom. If you are feeling "down" or empty or strangely off the path you think you should be on, read this book and suddenly you will find yourself facing tomorrow with a smile, not with an intrepid doubt. Brava to Ms. Eldon. If I had her address, I would send her a box of chocolates for helping me as she did with the amazing life lessons she shares. If you're reading this review, please know that I loved every page of it and will read it again within a year, I guarantee it.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jillian on October 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In the Heart of Life is a beautiful, raw, and honest account of Kathy Eldon's life story, and subsequently, the life story of her son, Dan, as their souls and missions in this world are so intertwined. This is ultimately a story of perseverance, as one woman courageously navigates through both the beautiful and excruciatingly painful parts of life while following the signs, synchronicities, and various intuitive guides along the way.

Exotic and risky travel, torrid love affairs, and leaps of faith abound - if you ever wonder how it seems some people are able to live 50 lives, Eldon will take you on her journey and show you how it's done. Her memoir not only details the life of a courageous spirit in action, but inspires and reminds us that it is possible to do the same by not ignoring that instinctual part of ourselves and the importance of listening to the universe.

In the Heart of Life is a treasure that will challenge and awaken the spiritual soul.
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