THIS SIGN WAS MINE by Patti Rae  Fletcher

THIS SIGN WAS MINE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman’s autobiographical account focuses on the portents that have filled her life.

Fletcher’s slim nonfiction debut recounts major events and landmarks in her life: her childhood, her marriage, her two sons, her longtime relationships with her parents, and her writing career. She finds in this narrative an array of “signs” sent to her from the cosmos. Her book breaks these incidents into short, discrete segments, many of them accompanied by her own photographs. She writes with affecting clarity about her marriage to a rock-solid husband who could be gruff but was always supportive; her changing relationship with her father as his health steadily declined; standout moments with her strong-willed sons; and the ups and downs of life in general. The pattern of the chapters is intentionally repeated: Some trial or difficult problem will present itself to the author; she will reach a point where she sees no hope of an answer; and then some unexpected twist or “sign” will happen and a resolution will suddenly appear. For 30 years, for instance, Fletcher consistently lost rings—from high school or from other special occasions—despite having a jewelry box with a special compartment for ring storage. Eventually, she realized that the compartment was defective: The missing rings had all fallen inside the box. Another time, she dreamed of owning a lakeside cabin resembling the one in an old painting she’d loved and then one day unexpectedly found just such a property for sale in her price range, accompanied by a series of “signs” that indicated to her that her parents had guided the whole search. The book is a connected chain of such events.

Fletcher’s writing is smooth and invitingly readable; even in brief, her character sketches, particularly of her father, are evocative. Her work, which describes an earthly life that’s bounded on all sides by unearthly help and guidance, will have an immediate appeal to like-minded readers of all religions (the author is Christian, but there’s hardly any specifically Christian emphasis in the text). But more skeptical readers will find reasonable doubt in these pages. “Over the past few years, signs, synchronicities, bizarre happenings, or divine interventions, however you name them, have become powerful in my life,” Fletcher writes. The events described are wide-ranging: An editor accepts a freelance piece; an unexpected job loss opens up the free time for the author to pursue a writing career; a heart-shaped hole in a potato chip brings reassurance during a stressful period of being an in-home caregiver for her ailing father; a heart-shaped patch of snow on a roof helps her grieve for her father; and the sight of two doves being affectionate to each other convinces her that her parents were reunited in the afterlife. These and all the other incidents covered here will strike some readers as fairly ordinary coincidences. For those readers, investing them with otherworldly significance produces a case of pareidolia, the common phenomenon of seeing patterns or something supernatural in what is actually simple coincidence mixed with wishful thinking. Still, Fletcher delivers an engrossing story filled with vivid details.

An engaging account of signs and wonders enriching an ordinary life.

Pub Date: July 29th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-5043-3627-7
Page count: 110pp
Publisher: BalboaPress
Program: Kirkus Indie
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