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The Beauty of What Remains: Family Lost, Family Found Paperback – September 15, 2015
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“I know of no other book that better accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of showing how to turn loss into gain, or of demonstrating how to create out of absence presence. The book’s heart is how Susan Hadler found out and formed a closer emotional connection with the father she had never known than many children have with fathers they knew. Anyone who's experienced family deprivation needs to read this book, and it is so beautifully written that everybody else will want to.”
—Jeffrey Paine, author of Father India and Re-enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West
“With courage and heart, Susan Hadler embarks upon a difficult journey to find the lost and forgotten members of her fragmented family. Along the way, she uncovers the family’s decades-old pain and sometimes shame―all with the hope of healing and reconciliation. Her story shows how loss, denial, and stigma can drain us, and also how forgiveness and compassion can restore us. Her unique blend of talents―equal parts writer, psychologist, and bloodhound hot on the trail―make for highly engaging and relatable reading. No one who reads this book will ever look at his or her own family history the same way again.”
—David A. Lande, National Geographic senior researcher and author of I Was with Patton
“If you don't believe it's possible to miss someone you never knew, Hadler's quest-based memoir will convince you otherwise. The Beauty of What Remains dovetails the search for her hero father who never came home from war with that of her mysterious aunts. In seeking them, she gradually finds herself, but will leave you pondering the secrets we keep.”
—Megan Smolenyak, author of Who Do You Think You Are?
“The Beauty of What Remains is a heartfelt memoir that reads like a good mystery. Susan Hadler shares the process of uncovering her family's history, including how meditation supported her along the way. A wonderful book!”
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness
“Hadler’s search for her father as an adult, a journey that took her to the last places on earth that he walked, serves as a prelude in this meditative memoir to her quest to discover what happened to her mother’s estranged sisters. What she discovers is a legacy of loss and mental illness, with repercussions for the generations that followed. Her years as a psychotherapist are evident in her measured, sympathetic treatment of the struggles faced by those in the family who used silence to cover tragedy. Both an exploration of loss and a celebration of discovering connections, The Beauty of What Remains is a moving account of one woman’s efforts to make her family whole.”
“This book is about the power of absence. Can we miss people we never even knew? . . . This book is also about the power of silence. Why did Hadler not know anything about her father or her aunts when she was growing up? Why was her mother so secretive about her first family, actively rebuffing Hadler’s requests for information . . . . compelling.”
About the Author
Susan Johnson Hadler, PhD is the co-author, with Ann Bennett Mix, of Lost in the Victory, a book that broke the silence surrounding mention of fathers who died in WWII and how their deaths affected their children. She has published articles in the Washingtonian, Reader’s Digest, and The Mindfulness Bell, and appeared in the Ancestors series on PBS. She formerly lived and taught in Tanzania, East Africa. Hadler worked for over twenty years as a psychotherapist in Washington, DC.
Top customer reviews
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Hadler deftly transitions through one story and into another, guiding us through as if we are members of the family, or one of the guys (like she became) from her father's WWII troop. Hearing "You Are My Sunshine" will forever be different for me. Knowing how it comforted an older lady through her isolation and abandonment, for decades.
The stories are difficult but the closure is beautiful and uplifting. I hope people enjoy it as much as I did.
Susan Hadler's true story of searching for information about her father who died during the last days of WW II and then her aunts who had disappeared from her life is a kind, compassionate look at tragic loss and later resolution.
The story of her aunt lost to a hospital for life because of a bout of post partum depression sheds light on this difficult situation.
Many of us have lost relatives. Some of us have lost people and do not where to find them. Not many of us would have the perseverance to find our lost relatives and then write about the journey so movingly.