My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a beautifully written memoir that had me pausing to reflect on my own life.
From the publisher’s web site:
The Gift of an Ordinary Day is an intimate memoir of a family in transition-boys becoming teenagers, careers ending and new ones opening up, an attempt to find a deeper sense of place, and a slower pace, in a small New England town. It is a story of mid-life longings and discoveries, of lessons learned in the search for home and a new sense of purpose, and the bittersweet intensity of life with teenagers–holding on, letting go.
Poised on the threshold between family life as she’s always known it and her older son’s departure for college, Kenison is surprised to find that the times she treasures most are the ordinary, unremarkable moments of everyday life, the very moments that she once took for granted, or rushed right through without noticing at all.
The relationships, hopes, and dreams that Kenison illuminates will touch women’s hearts, and her words will inspire mothers everywhere as they try to make peace with the inevitable changes in store.
Those who know my reading habits know I’m a fast reader, and that I really don’t like it when a book forces me to slow down. Knowing this, you will see the compliment here: I found this book a slow read, and I didn’t mind at all.
This was a book about slowing down in our lives, of being open to change, of accepting ourselves and those around us. As my daughter starts middle school, I’m reflecting on my life and on hers. These are messages I needed to take into account.
The author is a very different person than I am, living a very different life, but her words still resonated with me:
It occurs to me that perhaps I don’t have to push at life quite so hard after all, that sometimes the best thing we can do is allow our lives simply to take us where we need to go. The truth is, I don’t have any idea what goals I should be focusing on or how I ought to compose my life at this juncture– life in a new house, without regular work, without two children at home, without my old, tightly knit web of neighbors and friends.
But as all the identities I worked so hard to construct over the years begin to slough away I feel myself reconnecting with my own quiet center. It is as if I am, at last, catching a glimpse o myself not as I might wish to be, but as I am. I see a woman who is less ambitious than she once was. Someone less self-conscious, less invested in appearances, but also less “special” than the person I always thought I was meant to be. I see my own ordinariness. And I see that to be ordinary is okay after all.
and p. 57-58
It’s easy, given the times we live in and the implicit messages we absorb each day, to equate a good life with having a lot and doing a lot. So it’s also easy to fall into believing that our children, if they are to succeed in life, need to be terrific at everything, and that it’s up to us o make sure that they are– to keep them on track through tougher course loads, more activities, more competitive sports, more summer programs. But in all our well-intentioned efforts to do the right thing for out teenage children, we may be failing to provide them with something that is truly essential– the time and space they need to wake up to themselves, to grow acquainted with their own innate gifts, to dream their dreams and discover their true natures.
These messages are balanced with parts of her story that show the value of hard work towards a goal, just taking the time to make sure it is the right goal. These ideas are not contradictory.
I enjoyed hearing about Katrina Kenison’s life– building a new house, settling into a new community, watching her boys grow up. I loved the language she used to describe her thoughts. But most of all, I loved the reflection it encouraged in myself.
Thank you to Hachette Books for providing me a review copy of The Gift of an Ordinary Day. Thanks to them, I’m hosting a giveaway of 5 copies!
- Leave a comment to enter. Be sure your e-mail address is valid, so I can notify you if you win. If you have additional entries, you can leave them in the same comment.
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- As a bonus (for an additional entry) tell me about a book that spoke to you in your life.
Having an address (not a PO Box) in the US or Canada is required. I’ll pick the winners in the evening of September 10.