Several years ago my sister and I ran away to Florida. We were both reeling from unexpected heartbreaks – my infertility, her disbanded circle of friends. We felt lonely and untethered. We didn’t know what to say anymore. But we could be together.
And we could read books. Stacks of books. We read at the airport, beach, bookstores, coffeeshops, and in bed until we fell asleep. Sometimes reading passages to each other. Sometimes swapping books. One late, long drive we took turns reading short stories to each other. We forgot our regular lives and entered into fictional strangers’ new schools, first dates, secret obsessions, trespasses, and crimes. When we surfaced from that collection of stories, on that dark highway, our own lives felt different.
I just finished Everbloom: Stories of Living Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives, a collection of essays, stories, and poetry by the Redbud Writers Guild. This would be have been just the right book for that weekend away with my sister.
We were both at a crossroads, longing for change, to be in different roles, to be loved by different people, to walk in different directions. But we didn’t feel like it was in our power to create those differences, and if it was, we didn’t know really know how.
The stories in Everbloom would have encouraged us. Women are longing for, processing, grieving, and celebrating all kinds of changes in these pages: Cara doesn’t want to move, Dorothy is learning to how to cry, Amy is single again, Mallory has a huge scar on her back, Ruth is finally adopting, Suzanne is falling in love with her exchange student, and Leslie is buying a padded leopard-spotted bra. I was captivated.
I felt welcomed and encircled reading Everbloom. These women wanted to share their stories with me. For me. They wanted me to find the same hope and truth they did. No one was teaching at me with a pointed finger. No one wrapped their stories up with a bow. No one was waiting for thumbs up at the end of her piece. They were offerings for me to do with whatever I wanted.
If my sister and I read this collection that Florida weekend I’m certain we wouldn’t have liked the same pieces. She would have rolled her eyes at some sentiment about marriage. I would have rushed through some section about finding one’s voice. One of us would skip all the poetry, the other would analyze it. I felt freedom, not obligation, reading this book.
I think that comes from the Redbud Writers Guild’s deep purpose to create authentic community among women. As a Guild they equip and inspire all levels of writers, without competition or comparison. It sounds hokey and hippy, but as a new member of the Guild I can say they are pulling it off. That warm intention is evident throughout Everbloom.
This would be a great book for anyone in transition this summer. Because we know transition often leads to transformation, and that’s what Everbloom is all about. And we know transition often makes us feel alone and unsteady. High school graduates, college graduates, summer travelers, empty-nesters, mid-life wanderers, young mamas – it would be fresh for all of them.
When I give this book to my friend next week I’m going to say,
“Hey, I know you’re trying to figure a lot out right now. I think this Everbloom book would bring sweetness to you. There are 41 pieces in here. You don’t have to read them in order, you don’t have to read them all, you don’t have to like them all. But I’m certain there are words in here that will echo your heart, and you will feel known and understood. I think you’ll find hope. I love you.”
[Note: I received a copy of Everbloom from Paraclete Press in exchange for an honest review.]
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To learn about the Authors: Redbud Writers Guild
@Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2017.