Verdict: Just go and read this.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Date read: December 13th, 2017
Published by HarperPerennial, 2017
From an important new American writer comes this powerful collection of personal essays on fear, creativity, art, faith, academia, the Internet, and justice.
In this poignant and inciting collection of literary essays, Megan Stielstra tells stories to ward off fears both personal and universal as she grapples toward a better way to live. In her titular piece “The Wrong Way To Save Your Life,” she answers the question of what has value in our lives—a question no longer rhetorical when the apartment above her family’s goes up in flames. “Here is My Heart” sheds light on Megan’s close relationship with her father, whose continued insistence on climbing mountains despite a series of heart attacks leads the author to dissect deer hearts in a poetic attempt to interrogate her own feelings about mortality.
Whether she’s imagining the implications of open-carry laws on college campuses, recounting the story of going underwater on the mortgage of her first home, or revealing the unexpected pains and joys of marriage and motherhood, Stielstra’s work informs, impels, enlightens, and embraces us all. The result is something beautiful—this story, her courage, and, potentially, our own.
Intellectually fierce and viscerally intimate, Megan Stielstra’s voice is witty, wise, warm, and above all, achingly human.
This book snuck up on me: I was enjoying it and then suddenly I was loving it. I am so very glad that this was the 100th book I finished this year.
Megan Stielstra writes about a variety of topics: academia, feminism, her pregnancy and marriage, her struggle with postpartum depression, the story of her mortgage drowning her, gun control, and many more things. The essays are loosely structured around themes of fear but are so much more than that. It is fearless and honest and stylistically wonderful. It is unflinching – but also ultimately hopeful. I love how she holds herself accountable and how she wants to make the world a better place, one action at a time. This is needed; I needed to hear this.
I love the way Megan Stielstra’s language flows and how her essays are structured, both the individual pieces and the collection as a whole. Her sentences pack such a punch that I had to reread lengthy passages just to be sure I appreciate them as they should be appreciated (and then she says this: “I am not a good enough writer yet to explain what that did to my heart.” – if she thinks there is room for improvement then I cannot wait to read what she does next. It will blow my mind.).
I am having difficulties explaining my love for this book, so let me end by saying this: I had to rewrite my “Favourite Books of the Year”-post for this. It made me cry, it made me smile, I could not stop thinking about this (and thus missed sleep), and I have already bought Megan Stielstra’s other essay collection. Go and read this.