Monday, August 15, 2016

A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice by Christine Hale - #review

Christine Hale grew up amid abuse, depression, dysfunction, alienation and isolation—her mother’s, but also, because her view was the lens that controlled the family—her own, her father’s and her two sisters’. She became a writer, a prodigal daughter, a single parent, a Buddhist disciple, and, late in midlife, a newlywed. In this non-linear memoir, she meditates upon the broken path she’s traveled: two divorces, an abandoned career, too much solitude, an unconventional and transformative relationship with a female spiritual teacher, and two children lost to young adulthood but recovered, in part, through an odd ritual of repeated tattooing.



At times, reading A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice was a little uncomfortable for me ... but there was a reason.  The story was familiar to me.  Not that I had near the level of troubled childhood as did the author.  But there were dynamics going on that I did not understand until I was older.  So, my discomfort came from re-recognizing things from my own life that I conveniently tucked away and hid from having to deal with them.

I agree with the subtitle of 'a memoir in four meditations'.  When we meditate, or think over our lives, it is rarely in chronological order.  We pick and choose certain memories from certain points that do not arrive in neat chronological order.  Then, our subconscious wants to join the fun and grabs memories we forget we have along the theme of what our active mind is considering.

There is a saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."  I suspect Ms. Hale would agree with that statement, as do I.  While my mother did not go on 'tears' as the author's mother did, her emotions definitely ruled the roost.  When I was younger, I made the list that so many younger folks do of things that my parents did that I would not do with my children.  Now I look at the list and wonder how to stop doing those things.

When I started reading this book, I knew little or nothing about Buddhism.  (I knew Richard Gere is Buddhist and some vague notion about not even crushing bugs underfoot.)  Now I know a little, but realize how much more there is to know that I don't know.  (I hope that makes sense!)  But I definitely like learning about the various spiritual traditions (similar to or different from my own).   

It is a courageous thing Ms. Hale has done for us, laid bare the pages of her life - the hopes and happiness, as well as the toils and troubles.  Think of how many people you pass by or see during a day.  Each one has a story.  Not many are willing to share, especially when they have regrets.  I hope this book will provide others with the courage to share their own stories, because there are people out there who need to hear them.

I have to add that I enjoyed the passages about the tattoos.  The first time, all three were supposed to get a tattoo at the same time.  Each person's tattoo would have a unique portion, and then elements from each of the two others.  What a great way to demonstrate individualism and family at the same time.



Christine Hale’s prose has appeared in Hippocampus, Arts & Letters, Prime Number, Shadowgraph, and The Sun, among other literary journals. Her debut novel Basil’s Dream(Livingston Press 2009) received honorable mention in the 2010 Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Hale has been a finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers and the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Presently, she teaches in the Antioch University-Los Angeles Low-Residency MFA Program as well as the Great Smokies Writing Program. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Connect with Christine at her Website.


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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)

1 comment:

  1. I think every child makes a mental list of what not to do as an adult. It takes a lot of focus and willpower to follow through on those desires though, that's for sure.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!