- File Size: 709 KB
- Print Length: 320 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679771336
- Publisher: Vintage (August 3, 2011)
- Publication Date: August 3, 2011
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005C2SHKG
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,946 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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A Slender Thread: Rediscovering Hope at the Heart of Crisis Kindle Edition
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After donating a laptop computer to her local crisis prevention chapter, Ms. Ackerman is lured into giving a speech to its staff, and ultimately becomes a staff-member herself, as a volunteer answering phones for the suicide prevention hotline. Her oddessey of aiding those in distress is beautifully undertaken and even more beautifully described.
At first, the seemingly fearless Ackerman (who has a private pilot's license, scuba dives, is an accomplished horsewoman, and has even sexed crocodiles) is nervous about her abilities at crisis intervention. After the several weeks of training, she still feels apprehensive about responding to callers' crises. But like everything else in the author's incomparable ouevre, life beckons and blazes tantalizingly, and she handles adeptly the callers on the other end of that slender thread.
Some people are mired in bogs of depression, others struggling with abusive relationships, while a few are at the brink of suicide. In the stunning climax, Ackerman, from her isolated perch at Suicide Prevention's offices, rescues two desperate souls in a single evening: a teen only seconds from a fatal leap, and a frequent caller whom Ackerman finally realizes from faint clues has already ingested a potentially fatal dose of pills. In reading this late chapter, one's pulse races as frantically as the author's.
But in between her shifts, Ackerman celebrates in her typically effervescent way, many of nature's splendors. From weekend bicycle rides around Upstate New York's Finger Lakes region, a two-year study of her backyard squirrels, and a rollicking full moon cross country skiing trek to the strains of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata," among other delightful rituals. Ackerman is an impassioned participant in all of life's rich pageants.
(And this sentence, quiet as it is, jolts one out of blind admiration for this intrepid soul: "Some of our counselors, like me, are ones who survived, people who lived to see their lives turn around, and who relish life more because they came so close to losing it.") Yes, a joyous life, but not without its share of troubles. Fortunately, the worst our fiercely talented explorer experiences in these pages are a couple of broken toes. One from a misstep on a neighbor's porch, the other a casualty of her own wheelchair.
In A SLENDER THREAD Diane Ackerman has outdone herself. She has turned her poetically tuned naturalist's curiosity to our own fragile species, and composed an elegant song of survival, endurance, and brilliant life
Diane Ackerman's writing style and careful observations allow you to feel the pain of the callers. I will admit that it did at times feel insensitive when she alternated between stories of her enjoyment of life (baths, watching squirrels, biking) with the stories of people's pain. There are stories of squirrels interspersed with stories of people wanting to jump off bridges. She at times digresses into talking about depressed polar bears or how she watched a moth for hours out in nature.
She discusses famous people with manic-depression and talks about how she broke her foot. At times this reads like a diary of events over one year so you are not only hearing about the callers you are reading about the events of Diane's life. There is also a behind-the-scenes look at how counselors actually feel about the callers. I was not surprised that Diane Ackerman also goes looking for one of the callers because she is especially curious.
In the end this book seems to be about compassion and the fragility of human life. If you remember that Diane is as interested in nature as human nature, this book makes more sense. I liked how Diane encouraged the callers to nurture themselves and how she saved lives through intervention. The conversations with the callers are the highlight of the book and you may find yourself skipping through some of the other details to get to more stories about the callers.
~The Rebecca Review
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