Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed

The sub-title of this collection of essays is "Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar."    Sugar is Ms. Strayed pseudonym for the advice column she writes for The Rumpus website, aptly titled, "Dear Sugar."   The book is a collection of her responses to emails from readers.

The beauty and brilliance of Ms. Strayed is that Sugar's responses to the typical collection of confused and troubled letters are far, far different than anything you may have read in a newspaper.   Each response is simply lovely:  it is loving yet brutally crisp, it is supportive yet direct, and on the more difficult or complex topics, Sugar shares her personal experiences and difficulties as a way of setting context or explaining that the writer isn't alone in his or her problem.

Two caveats:  brace yourself for profane language if that's not something to which you're accustomed, and also, as you might expect, many of the letters seeking advice describe harsh situations involving abuse, sexual habits, and the like.   So all in all, it is an "R -rated" book.   But that's not a criticism, simply a note that it might be a bit much for, say, your precocious nine year old early reader.

I confess that I did feel a bit fatigued at the end.  Maybe this isn't the sort of material one should read in a single sitting.   So I can't tell if it is a critique (too long, or poor selection choices at the end) or not.   So I'm going with "highly recommended" as my net-net.

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