EMBODYING SOUL by Keri Mangis

EMBODYING SOUL

A Return to Wholeness: A Memoir of New Beginnings
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the debut remembrance, a wife, mother, and businesswoman’s search for truth leads her to explore two planes of existence.

Mangis begins her book by describing a place called the “Soul Realm,” a “well-organized airport” full of souls that’s part of an endless cycle of reincarnation. The author’s alter ego, Serene Voyager, or “Sëri,” waits here with her guide and “soul friend” Rasa, and they reflect on the truths of life and the uses and limitations of anger and religion. They’re joined by Sëri’s personal, motivational wolf companion Endless Curiosity, or “Curiosa.” In the “Earth Realm,” Curiosa becomes a companion to the author, along with anthropomorphic versions of Fear, Guilt, and Shame. Mangis tells of how she was born in Fargo, North Dakota, in 1972 to emotionally undemonstrative parents, and how she grew to have a voracious appetite for books. She recounts her first encounters with Rasa and Curiosa, and how they shaped her; she went from being a reserved, bookish girl to an accomplished runner in high school, a social butterfly in college, and a successful insurance businesswoman. She eventually found love and became a mother of two. She struggled with anxiety and depression, as well as with Fear and Guilt; her panic and restlessness led her to pursue therapy and the spiritual aspects of yoga practice. Mangis’ use of the speculative Soul Realm is a bold decision that will make some readers question the book’s classification as a memoir. Most characters are Keri’s feelings, with a few noteworthy exceptions, such as her husband and people at work. She recounts a largely solemn, lonely existence, but she also excellently captures the torment of anxiety and depression in these pages. A stark conversation about rape and consent, reflected in the author’s experiences, provides a moving turning point. The Soul Realm could have had the potential to alienate readers, but it’s grounded by the inclusion of real-world objects and concepts, such as libraries, landscape painting, and Post-its. The author’s principal goal is to inform, and the book becomes a kind of self-help guide that encourages intuition, communication, and letting go.

A nontraditional but effective memoir about one woman’s discovery of spiritualism.

Page count: 285pp
Publisher: Curiosa Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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