Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Book Review: Stay, by Anjuli Paschall

This summer, I made a terrible discovery:

I couldn't read nonfiction!!

My pandemic-lockdown-coronovirus stressed brain just couldn't handle it. I was devouring fiction like bonbons, but non-fiction just wouldn't stick. 

I know I'm not alone in this. Normal things becoming difficult seems to be one of 2020's most played songs.

I shunned all the nonfiction choices on the recent Nuts About Books review selections. But then I started to read reviews for Stay by Anjuli Paschall, and my heart started to flutter. Maybe I could just read this one...

I curled up with a steamy espresso, a bowl of fresh Niagara peaches, and slowly began to read.

Yes, this was exactly what I needed.

Stay is an invitation to be present. 
Not fighting the futile fight to be somewhere or someone else. 
Be here, in this moment, and be loved.

Each chapter is an intimate, personal essay, inspired by Anjuli's own experiences. She's honest about her struggles with shame and anxiety. But this isn't a story of wallowing in those feelings or using them as currency. This isn't "stay in the pain because this is what you deserve." Instead, it's about finding authenticity and love in even the most challenging moments. How staying in the pain allows us to heal and be transformed. It's about discovering what grace truly feels like, and how we can be generous in both its giving and receiving.

As much as I love Anjuli's thoughts, I might love her writing even more! She writes with an intimate voice, laced with moments of poetry. She anchors her personal memories with beautiful details.  Her description of her beloved campground at the opening of "The Lake" had me craving my own childhood campground in Newfoundland. During a tribute to her lifelong friends, she describes their efforts to help a friend through a suicidal period. Using the metaphor of the men who lowered their friend through the roof to Jesus, Anjuli lovingly and sensitively shares what could only have been a very dark season for them all.

This book can be inhaled in a single day or luxuriated over for weeks (my personal choice!) You'll find yourself drifting over your own memories, exploring your personal moments of discovery, healing and grace.

I highly recommend Stay!
Grab a copy, pour a favourite beverage, and enjoy...

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

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