ASTONISHED by Beverly Donofrio


A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace
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Donofrio (Looking for Mary, 2000, etc.) recounts her survival from rape at age 55 and subsequent spiritual journey.

Best known for Riding in Cars with Boys (1990), her first memoir about her teenage pregnancy and single motherhood, the author was raised Catholic. As an adult, following years without religious practice, Donofrio developed a deep love for and affinity with the Virgin Mary and returned to Catholicism. In 2006, while living peacefully as an expat in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Donofrio awoke to find herself held at knife point by the town's serial rapist. "I did not want to believe in a God that would let this happen," she writes at the book's beginning. After the man was caught weeks later, Donofrio remained unsettled, wrestling with feelings of having been violated and spiritual questions concerning good and evil. In search of stillness and safety, she planned to leave for six months to visit five places, most of which were monasteries. The bulk of the narrative follows this pilgrimage, which included stays with the Trappists at St. Benedict and the Carmelites at Nada Hermitage, both in Colorado, and at a friend's Missouri retreat center. Donofrio devoted her days to prayer and meditation, as well as the study of spiritual writings, which she lists in the narrative. Her story is one of reconciliation; she felt herself grow closer to Jesus while shedding some of her decades-old protective holding patterns and bitterness toward men. She considered, then decided against, becoming a nun. The conclusion of her journey, following her torrent of questions for and about divine power, lies in her realization that her faith is unshakeable and her attack, ultimately, showed her the heart of God.

Honest, engaging and cathartic.

Pub Date: March 7th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0670025756
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2013


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