A debut autobiography chronicles a woman’s peripatetic wandering and her fascination with an esoteric spiritual text.
On a fateful Halloween night in 1970, while Jett was living in Kaimuki, Hawaii, she was offered a copy of The Urantia Book by a neighbor. A collection of unsigned papers, the tome was massive, bulging to more than 2,000 pages. Nevertheless, Jett was so fascinated by its contents—which included an account of ancient Egyptian religion and the teachings of Jesus—that she devoured it and joined a reading group devoted to its study. She eventually became involved in one of the organizations that promotes the book—she volunteered to be a membership co-chairperson for one of its chapters—and intensely followed the acrimonious disputes within that world over the proper stewardship of the The Urantia Book’s distribution to the reading public. Shortly after she was first introduced to the volume, Jett was compelled to confront the gradual dissolution of her marriage, a failure fueled by her husband’s untreated alcoholism. She finally made the decision to leave him with her three children and embarked for Tahiti with a relatively new friend, Paul. She eventually returned to Hawaii and began a relationship with Doug, a talented musician and music editor, and they married in 1980. She began working in the industry under his tutelage and wrote the story for a Rick Springfield music video. Doug died of cancer in 1986—a devastating emotional blow to the author. She would eventually marry a German businessman, Joe, with whom she moved to Croatia.
Jett’s life is as eventful as it is wending, and her penchant for quick, impetuous decisions makes for a thrilling read. For example, when a friend called her from Germany to tell her he found the widow of Kurt Gerstein—an SS officer who opposed the Third Reich—the author immediately hopped on a plane to meet her. The entire recollection is infused with this spirit of adventure, an infectious lust for life and the blessings of serendipitous happenstance. As a result of her spontaneity, she would enjoy a private concert by Stevie Wonder, work on a music video for the rap group NWA, and become a screenwriter. Jett’s prose is plainly lucid and anecdotal, displaying all of the informality and confessional candor of an intimate letter written to an old friend. But haunting the entire volume rather than informing it is her preoccupation with The Urantia Book, something Jett discusses often but never really explains. She gives meticulously detailed accounts of the intramural disputes between organizations devoted to the work, which eventually roil into a courtroom battle. But the author says little about the book’s contents, which, as a result, will remain nebulously obscure to most readers. This omission will become a rampart to readers’ comprehension of the memoir, since Urantia seems to inform her every decision, catalyzing a lifelong spiritual quest.
An engrossing account of an intrepid life that somewhat suffers from a lack of introspective candor.