A moving memoir of love and faith from a 72-year-old Unitarian Universalist minister.
Sewell (A Little Book of Reflections, 2011) shares her life story, beginning when she was taken away from her mentally ill mother at a very young age and moved to Homer, La., with her alcoholic father and rigidly Christian grandparents. Although she grew up with all the trappings of a sweet Southern belle, darkness lurked below the surface; she grappled with her family’s difficulties while also struggling with her own feelings of depression, awkwardness and low self-esteem. Sewell turns her searing gaze upon herself, delving deeply into her most intimate and occasionally unpleasant emotions—including her feeling that she married a man she didn’t love and her anger toward her children. She also writes of her struggle to understand God at times when she didn’t connect with her faith. She writes, “[H]ome is not a place…but rather a condition of the spirit.” Accordingly, the entire narrative centers around the author’s search for a home within herself, through writing, exploring sexual relationships, joining the Unitarian Church, or making peace with her family and her past. Her prose is clear throughout, and the sections about her youth have a childlike simplicity while also offering the considered perspective of a thoughtful adult. The characters and situations are often evocative, as in a scene in which the author meets with a Christian marriage counselor. Sewell treats her subjects—including herself—with a compellingly generous spirit that helps readers identify with her and everyone she encounters. Although the chapters are somewhat choppy and the story disjointed at times, it remains eminently readable and engaging throughout. Unitarian readers may recognize their own journeys in these pages, and others are sure to learn something new about what it means to find one’s way in the world as a person of faith.
A heartfelt, thoughtful and deeply honest memoir.