Kathleen Norris’ book Acedia & Me reads like a biography, even though it’s not labeled as such. That’s not a bad thing. She uses her life as a backdrop to explain acedia, a malady akin to depression, but not depression. It’s more of an inability to care anymore.
So the book is a little dark. There is hope in it, but you have to be on the lookout.
And it’s a little long. Over 300 pages. About halfway through, I grew restless.
Remind me again why I’m reading this? I had heard it was good from several sources, but that’s not good enough.
But at about page 225, I felt sucked back into the story. I knew her husband was going to die; I might as well stick around to the end and see how she handles it.
Anyone who has not endured this may find it hard to comprehend, but what looks like a hopeless and depressing situation from the outside can feel very different when you are living it. p 225
For grace to be grace, it must give us things we didn’t know we needed and take us to places where we didn’t want to go. As we stumble through the crazily altered landscape of our lives, we find that God is enjoying our attention as never before. p 230
She handled it with grace. And retells it with poetry. I knew she would. I had read The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work,a few years back, so I knew her writing would be artful. Sometimes I need more art in my sometimes austere readings. She didn’t disappoint.
But I also need more light at the end of the tunnel. I know it’s there. While Norris offers some, it wasn’t enough for me.
Would I recommend this book as heartily as I saw it recommended? Probably not. It’s good, no doubt, and might be even better on a second reading, but it wasn’t for me, not now anyway.
Read it at your own risk.