A spiritually charged memoir recounts a woman’s struggle to find a relationship with God and a sense of self-worth.
As the youngest of three children, debut author Bodner grew up pining for her father’s approval. He was an emotionally aloof man, she writes, who was quick to dispense biting criticism but miserly with praise. As a result, the author suffered from a crippling lack of self-esteem, which made it difficult to form strong bonds with peers. Also, she says, her suppressed emotions led to a feeling of distance between her and God. Indeed, she asserts that the crux of her crisis was always spiritual: “My struggle with food, weight, and self-image was also intimately connected to my struggle with God. I did not yet have a real sense of a loving God to rely on.” The author’s life took a better turn when she met Bob Bodner, when she was 14 and he was 18; they married three years later, in 1950, and went on to have three children. He was a loving, encouraging man, she writes, who helped her discover untapped sources of strength and confidence. She became a founder of the League of Women Voters of Hamilton County, Indiana, and the president of the local parent-teacher organization and got a pilot’s license. After Bob died in 1985, she responded to her grief by turning to Judaism, finding a spiritual mentor (author Louise Dunn, who contributes a foreword), and taking transformative trips to Israel, Egypt, and India. Throughout this memoir Bodner writes in plain, unadorned prose—a style that matches the simple humility of her narrative. Despite her travails, her tone is relentlessly positive throughout—even regarding her father, who receives a sometimes-sympathetic treatment; specifically, she shows how his softer side showed in his love of nature. The author admirably draws on emotional reserves to forgive those who wronged her, and this seems to have been the catalyst for her own emancipation from self-doubt. Overall, although the memoir doesn’t cover unfamiliar ground or issue novel counsel, it’s still a courageously candid account of the author’s triumphs and tragedies.
A familiar but affecting memoir about a search for God.