Andi Cumbo - Writer, Editor, Online Writing Courses, Classes & Lessons

Tiny, Beautiful, Powerful Things – A Review of Cheryl Strayed’s New Book

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She read the final piece from the book at AWP, and I cried. I cried and cried, almost sobbed in that huge room full of people. Not just because the piece was about a mother dying, not just because I was very, very tired, but because the writing was beautiful. Concise, honest, kind and strong. True. True. 9780307949332_p0_v3_s260x420

So I took some of the few dollars I have to spare from farm life and bought the book. Then, I spent every night reading it – sometimes reading a couple of passages to P, sometimes reading quietly to myself before I fell asleep.

The book changed me.

It helped me see how, as as writer, my own stories can share wisdom. I thought I knew this before, but I didn’t, not deeply.

But more than as a writer, this book shaped me as a person because it reminded me that it’s only my perspective, my attitudes, and my actions I can change – not anyone else’s. It reminded me that boundaries are healthy, not limiting. It reminded me that it is possible to speak the truth in love, and not just use that phrase as a cover-up for saying hurtful, unloving things. It reminded me that life is painful and hard and absolutely beautiful in the midst of all that.

My favorite quote from the book:

“Be about ten times more magnanimous than you believe yourself capable of. Your life will be a hundred times better for it.”

But I could choose 100 more.

I’m shelving this book right next to Anne Lamott, a talisman, a reminder to good writing and deep truth, and the ways we speak love with the edge that cuts through the lies.

Have you read tiny, beautiful things? If so, what did you think? 

By the way, Wild is up on my list soon. I hear I may not like Strayed’s persona there.  I’ll just have to see.

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Author: Andi

I am a writer, editor, and writing teacher whose most recent book, The Slaves Have Names, tells the story of the people who were enslaved on the plantation where I was raised. When I'm not working, my husband and I are working to make our small farm - God's Whisper Farm - a retreat here at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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