I cried over Heather Lende's earlier book, If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name. Her stories about the people of Haines, Alaska, and the obituaries she writes for the Chilkat Valley News are so full of heart, full of love and caring. She's honest about her own failings, and those of the people she writes about. But, her obituaries show the humanity of her fellow townspeople. And, now, she has another beautiful tearjerker, one that again touches on ordinary lives that are all extraordinary as well. Asked to write an essay with wisdom to live by, Lende looked at her own life, and the lives of the people she writes about, and answered with the words that title the new book. Find the Good.
Lende raised five kids in Alaska, is involved in her small community, and writes the obituaries for the local weekly newspaper. She said writing obituaries has taught her the value of intentionally trying to find the good in people and situations. She interviews family members and friends to discover what made the deceased special. She works to find the good.
The book isn't just a tearjerker, though. There's humor here as well. Lende shares some of the lessons she learned from the people she writes about. She learned to relax a little about the state of her house. She's learning to enjoy moments, moments with her grandchildren, with her dogs. When she babysits for the grandchildren, there are blocks around the house, dog hair, and happy children. "My house is getting messier in direct proportion to my growing optimism."
In her stories of children, grandchildren, dogs, obituaries, and old friends, Heather Lende points out how she tries to Find the Good. It's a beautiful, thoughtful book. Author Sharon Salzberg called it "A gem of a book", and she's right. When Lende sums up one lesson with "Life. Love. Loss. Us.", she summarizes all the reasons to Find the Good. It's an exquisite lesson for life.
Heather Lende's website is www.heatherlende.com
Find the Good by Heather Lende. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 2015. ISBN 9781616201678 (hardcover), 162p.
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