I was asked to do a book review this spring of Cynthia Montanaro’s just-published book, Diary of a Country Mother. I’m a little late in posting this (of course!), but here is my review.
The short review: I really, really liked this book.
But here’s the “long” version.:)
I have to confess that I don’t make a lot of time for reading, even though I love to read. At the end of the day right now, I’d rather go to bed than stay up reading! Somehow I found time to read Diary of a Country Mother, though, and it was honestly less of a stretch than I thought it would be.
The book is written as a year of diary entries and reflections about the life and death Cynthia’s youngest son, Tim, who struggled with learning disabilities and mental illness throughout his life until his death at age 15. The book was something I found I could pick up and put down a little at a time, and it was a fairly fast read for me. I honestly came away with a little nugget of blessing each time I picked it up. Cynthia’s thoughts are graceful but concise. In her reflections and memories of Tim, she seamlessly weaves the heartbreaking in with the stop-and-put-this-in-my-heart profound in with the side-splittingly funny.
What got me about this book was how rock-solid Cynthia’s faith is–and in turn her testimony to how rock-solid our God is, no matter what sufferings we are going through. Cynthia’s grieving and healing is so rooted in Scripture, in particular. This book is a must-read especially for anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one or has dealt with loved ones suffering from a mental illness. Cynthia writes from a place of real peace, hope and acceptance of God’s will in her life. You see throughout the book how she was and is truly sustained, kept on track, and encouraged by both Scripture and the sacraments both as she was raising Tim and now in her grieving of his death.
Something that inspired me in my life as a young mother was how incredibly faithful the Montanaro family is in their daily life. I was so inspired by how they lived out their faith, how they prayed together as a family, and how they taught the faith to their children in so many small ways. I am “stealing” several ideas from them now and am storing others up for the future.:)
I think that part of the reason that I decided to review this book is probably because I have a close friend who is a Catholic therapist and counselor. One of her heart’s desires is to practice and promote a Catholic approach to treatment and counseling of those dealing with mental health issues in themselves or in family members. She has really opened my eyes to how profoundly faith can heal and sustain people in so many of those situations. Cynthia Montanaro and her family delighted in their son and brother and loved him through all of the various difficulties of his illness. Cynthia really emphasizes that the value and impact of a single human being cannot be measured.
Needless to say, my friend will soon be getting my copy of Diary of a Country Mother in the mail. 🙂