From the publisher:
Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.
Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond. Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.
When this title first came up in the circulation of “maybe you should read this” suggestions, I adamantly decided I wasn’t going to read it. I was pretty confident I wouldn’t take the time to listen to it on Audible. What interest did I have in a compilation of advice from an advice column? Clearly, with the loads of other things I had on my list to read, this book was so low in priority I could brush it aside.
A few weekends ago I changed my mind. I attended a lecture by Nadia Bolz-Weber (http://www.nadiabolzweber.com/ ) titled “Shameless AF: Looking at Our Personal Sh*t – Without The Shame.” It was an engaging and amazing lecture – if you ever have time to attend a lecture by her, I highly recommend it. But this isn’t a review about how amazing Nadia’s event was (we will save it for when I review one of her books), but how she inspired me to read the advice given by Sugar.
Someone in the audience asked a question, I can’t really remember exactly what it was, but it was asking for further reading on the subject. Nadia recommended Cheryl’s book as some of the best compassionate wisdom she had seen people be given. She told us Cheryl’s approach wasn’t the typical one. Her take-away from the book was that Sugar offered tough, sound, sometimes critical advice for people’s “shitty problems”. Knowing my list of “to read” was long, and my list of “to listen” was shorter; I downloaded the book on Audible and dived in that evening.
I’m really glad I listened to this book (narrated by Cheryl). I felt more connected to Sugar’s words, and those of her readers who wrote in asking for guidance. There was a therapeutic element to hearing them in the gentle cadence of Sugar’s voice. I fell in love with the “honey buns” and “sweet peas” and the no-nonsense approach she had to many of the issues presented to her.
One advice-seeker was lamenting her frustration and anger over her parents no longer helping her pay her student loans and saddling her with all the debt. Having an enormous amount of student debt myself, her question made me angry. After working full-time and part-time over an eight year period as I self-funded my education, the audacity of her anger over the debt was astounding to me.
I wasn’t sure what direction the advice Sugar would give would take. I needn’t have worried. Sugar set her straight with kind firmness and a reminder that sometimes we have to take on debt, or make sacrifices, to get what we want. It soothed my rankled heart and I hope that it helped enlighten the girl who wrote in.
One story made me cry, another made me laugh, more than a few made me roll my eyes and shake my head. Each and every answer framed for others, had impact and ended up settling something in my own heart. This was probably one of the more healing, more connecting, books I’ve read. It came at a time in my life where I’m in uncharted territory – navigating my son’s needs, my daughter’s, my husbands; trying to allow myself time to get over losing my job, of putting my career on hold. This list goes on.
I now hear Sugar’s voice in my head. “Oh, sweetpea. Life is hard. But you’ll get through.”
This won a solid 5 out of 5 rating from me. I’m a hard critic, as anyone can see, from most of the reviews I have done. I’m not entirely sure I’d listen to or read this book again, but I will firmly and adamantly buy it as future gifts, push it as a recommendation, and beg others to read it.
My professional background in biotechnology as a research chemist and as a veterinary technician has allowed me to have experienced two vastly different fields and for that I am thankful. In both careers, I have mentored, encouraged, and developed talent.
As a mother of two (a daughter and a son), I’m a self-proclaimed backyard chicken guru and someone who has “foster failed” nearly all the animals currently running the household. Oh, and I maintain a husband in my spare time.