A sweet reflection on the limitless nature of love. Anderson’s debut is at its heart a tribute to the author’s husband, Tom, a country doctor who seemed simultaneously a saint amongst men. Still, beyond the goodness he embodied as a community leader and unapologetic Christian, Tom’s days were sometimes clouded by memories from his past. A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Tom was frequently given to bouts of depression, manifest occasionally in manic behavior. Despite these challenges, he managed to achieve incredible personal and professional success. He worked first as a travelling missionary, then put himself through medical school with the specific goal of benefitting small towns. Having experienced so much confusion and darkness in his youth, Tom had come to appreciate lived faith beyond all earthly distractions, and yearned to nurture strong families in communities which embodied traditional values. These pages recount his growing family’s struggle to make ends meet despite the financial pitfalls of medical school; they recall jobs lost because Tom couldn’t stay silent in the face of abused patient trust. They find him earnestly searching for a church community in which to center himself and his family, and locate him in the fight to treat mental illness against stigmas from even within his own religious communities. Always, these recollections are deepened by the necessary, devout support of his equally impressive family. All impediments are navigated with a grace which will impress readers. High and low moments alike are recounted with humor and affection.
My Favorite Cashew is replete with irresistible charms. While its pages are informed by Tom’s traditional faith, the book avoids sanctimony. This is the story of a Christian who strove to embody kindness and generosity, and whose work was always refreshingly devoid of connected judgment. Having once been comprehensively broken, Tom worked to be a doctor who comprehensively healed. His story will inspire readers in multiple ways. It is at once a challenge to approach mental illness with more nuance and a call to love each other, and our neighbors, with unwavering care. A triumphant response to the worst impulses of human behavior which should fill readers with hope.