Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie by Beth M. Howard
I think I've mentioned this before. When asked by another widow how I went on after my husband's death, I said you have to find a passion. When Beth M. Howard lost her husband, Marcus Iken, she not only dealt with grief, she had to cope with her feelings of guilt. It took time, but she was able to go on with life, thanks to pie. Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie is her story of death, sorrow and grief, rebirth and resurrection.
Every bit of Howard's story is compelling. Her voice caught my attention immediately. She begins and ends her book with pie. The beginning, "I blame pie. If it wasn't for banana cream pie, I never would have been born." Her ending takes us full circle. "If not for pie, I never would have made peace with myself. I'm glad my mom made my dad that banana cream pie. I love pie."
Beth Howard doesn't have a lot of patience with life. She's moved from job to job, leaving a lucrative job to make pies in Malibu, California. She met and married Marcus Iken, a German with an English accent, when she was forty. She loved him passionately, but couldn't cope with his upward-mobility in his job, his long hours and neglect of her needs for attention. She was living in Texas, and they were in the process of marriage mediation while talking about divorce when she received a phone call saying he had died. And, Beth Howard crashed into guilt, pain and sorrow.
It took grief counseling, over a year, and lots and lots of pie for Beth to be able to on. She spent time , traveling, taping a TV pilot about pie, remembering the joy pie brought to people. She baked pies, remembered her past experiences with pies, and offered to judge pies for national competitions and the Iowa State Fair. And, it was returning to her roots in Iowa that brought her some peace.
Everyone recognizes Grant Wood's painting, American Gothic. The American Gothic House is in rural southeastern Iowa in Eldon. That's now home-base for Beth Howard, where she rents the American Gothic House, lives in it, and sells pies on the front lawn at The Pitchfork Pie Stand.
Howard's Making Piece is a beautiful story of finding the courage to live and move on with life, keeping memories while learning to let go of guilt. It's a story of finding passion. It's an honest, forth-right account. She sums it up perfectly in her prologue. "You will find my story is a lot like pie, a strawberry-rhubarb pie. It's bitter. It's messy. It's got some sweetness, too. Sometimes the ingredients get added in the wrong order, but it has substance, it will warm your insides and, even though it isn't perfect, it still turns out okay in the end." And, she sums it up for all of us who have lost people we love. "It still turns out okay in the end."
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
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My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.