Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review: The Reluctant Blogger by Ryan Rapier

With charm, insight, and empathy, Ryan Rapier explores loss, love, family relationships, and starting over in the context of LDS culture.

Todd Landry's wife died - suddenly, unexpectedly, tragically - leaving him with three kids (ages 13, 9, and 4), a broken heart, and a pile of unanswered and unanswerable questions.  He's gone on autopilot for the past nine months, going through the motions of life but empty, having lost the ability to feel any joy in it.  Even meeting with a therapist, a last ditch resort, doesn't seem to be helping since Todd refuses to talk about his wife, his family, his feelings, anything.  Finally, Dr. Schenk puts his foot down.  Either Todd starts blogging or he's done.

Scared into action, Todd starts and once he starts, a flood of words pours out.

As narrative devices go, the blogging-to-your-therapist approach was surprisingly effective for me, though I'll admit that the blog entries didn't always read as such.  The blog allowed Todd to tell his story as a first-person narrative, while allowing the reader to recognize Todd's bias and get glimpses of a different perspective during his sessions with Dr. Schenk.  And Dr. Schenk, as an outsider, is able to make some very astute observations regarding LDS culture and how we process loss and change that pierce through the cultural blinders we wear so obliviously sometimes: "Todd, you are not the first Mormon to come in here struggling with inner conflicts over seeking therapy.  It's actually common for people of your faith...Mormons like to think they are the most emotionally stable people on earth..."

Todd comes across as a real person. I ached with sympathy for him as I read his recollection of the day his wife died.  I laughed at his awkward antics re-entering the world of dating, particularly the dreaded Single Adult dances.  Todd tries and messes up, apologizes and tries again.  He's mad at God for taking his wife away, but slowly is able to start finding some humor and light in his life again. He works on his relationships with his kids, his friends, his family, imperfectly, but he keeps going.  Eventually a little romance even creeps into his life again, which of course brings its own complications along.

Rapier addresses difficult topics with compassion, understanding, and humor.  I'm looking forward to seeing what he does next.

The Reluctant Blogger
by Ryan Rapier
ISBN: 9781462112548
Buy it from Amazon here: (paperbackebook)
Find it at a local independent bookseller.
Look it up on Goodreads.
Check it out at your local library (find the nearest one here).

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