Published by Apprentice House on July 1, 2016
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours for review consideration.
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In this layered collage of memory within memory, Hale recreates for readers her kaleidoscopic experience of a decades-long journey to acceptance and insight. Writer, prodigal daughter, single parent, Buddhist disciple, and, late in midlife, a newlywed, she is transformed through an unconventional relationship with a female spiritual teacher and an odd ritual of repeated tattooing with her two young adult children. "Christine Hale's evocation of the bewildering complexities of life as a mother, daughter, wife (and ex-wife), and student of Buddhism is both a poem and a letter to those she has worked so long and hard to understand. On a journey that takes her through emotional and actual hurricanes, love and cruelty, urgent losses, and painful gains, she climbs to sometimes unnervingly high altitudes as she experiences "the joy and the sorrow of samsara." In beautiful, clear language, Hale explores the wounds life gives us, the wounds we give ourselves, and the long process of healing." -Sarah Stone, author of The True Sources of the Nile Christine Hale is the author of a novel, Basil's Dream (Livingston Press 2009); National Book Award finalist Joan Silber says, "Basil's Dream...seems to prove fiction can go where other forms can't." Ms. Hale's creative nonfiction has appeared in Arts & Letters, Spry, Still, Hippocampus, and Prime Number, among other journals. A fellow of MacDowell, Ucross, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, she earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College. She teaches in the Antioch University-Los Angeles Low-Residency MFA Program as well as the Great Smokies Writing Program in Asheville, North Carolina, where she and her husband live.
A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice chronicles Christine Hale’s journey of learning to view her experiences from outside herself, finding clarity and gaining perspective, releasing guilt, making peace with herself, and learning to treat herself fairly.
Hale’s writing is non-linear, jumping around between the past and the present, often within a single page. She finds meaning in otherwise mundane memories, and I found myself thinking about some of my own early memories. Hale’s style is poetic, with phrasing that is simple and beautiful, even when sharing unpleasant memories.
To be honest, this was an unexpectedly slow read for me, and there were times I found my attention wandering. But the book’s subtitle is spot-on; I was reminded of the way meditation requires focus and a bit of effort in order to gain insight. This is life, and we all know how terribly messy and chaotic and complex that can be. Patience is required.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours, one lucky reader (US or Canada only) will win a copy of A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice. Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 7. Check out what other readers have to say about this memoir by visiting other stops on the tour, all month long!