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Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way Hardcover – July 28, 2010
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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.
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
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I encountered Bittersweet at a very 'bitter' time in my life. I was working through some colossal hurt in a relationship and I could relate immensely to a lot of Shauna's writing. I underlined over and over and whenever I do that to a book, I find that it is definitely something worth keeping around.
I just finished reading Bittersweet for the second time. I didn't really intend to read it a second time, but I was at the gym and it was on my kindle so I just re-started it. If you read this book once and loved it, read it again, you will find so many more nuggets of wisdom that you overlooked.
Some people may not believe that Shauna's writing is incredibly deep or in-depth, but I don' know that her target is to write to provoke deep theological discussion. I believe she is writing for all the women out there who might be able to connect, and if you've ever gone through some tough seasons, you should be able to connect to many of these essays.
If you are looking for an incredible light read, this is a great one. I'm anxiously awaiting her next book "Bread & Wine".
Writing about a personal season of heartache, change, and struggle, Shauna lets the reader into very raw and honest places in her life. She shares the pain and feelings of isolation following a miscarriage, the struggles that arise in marriage when listening stops, and the challenge of accepting and moving with change. It is all at once a beautiful tapestry of wisdom and a felt pain shared between reader and author in the communicating of these experiences.
Through it all, Shauna constantly points back to her faith in Christ as being the stronghold that carried her through the season of deep difficulty she experienced. Interweaving Biblical truths in her own refreshing language and style, Shauna provides insight and wisdom that does not terminate on herself but rather points the reader to a greater Answer.
In blessing or mourning, this work is one that is essential. The combination of its honesty and hope in the presence of hard circumstances is something that will provide encouragement to the reader, regardless of the season they find themselves in.