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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything

I love Barbara Ehrenreich's work, so when I found out she put out a new book, Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything, I scooped it up.

As an adult about to submit her papers for archiving at a university library, Barbara reviews her journal that she kept as an adolescent. It records a series of mystical experiences that happened to the young atheist, forcing her to examine whether there was something wrong with her or if a higher power was affecting her. The journey leads her to push through discoveries in many areas of her life--a journey of self-discovery, intellectual ability, and personal determination.

I really do adore Ehrenreich and her work as a journalist; I think she is one of the most deep-cutting and insightful writers I have found who doesn't hold back. If you haven't yet read Nickled and Dimed, run and read that then come back here and finish this post. It will stun the pants off of you while making you a little bit of a better person for understanding some harsh realities behind our minimum wage culture from someone who voluntarily lived it. That, however, is not this book, which is a tour de force in and of itself. Ehrenreich turns her critical eye inward to explore her experience and to view it from sharp hindsight.

This is classic Ehrenreich: intelligent and penetrating while never being pedantic or assuming she can't trust her audience. She is on a literary journey that she kindly shares with us, her readers. She lays her experience bare on the table and examines it critically in order to get a good grip on what happened. Hindsight is 20/20 as we all know, but there are sometimes occurrences that can't be explained to easily. They require more insight and responsibility, and this treatise is one of those. It was also incredible to watch Ehrenreich explore her identity through her childhood and her college years; as we move through early adulthood in this book we get a strong sense of who Barbara is and what drove her life choices.

This is a memoir of sorts, but a very specific kind. It is one that asks you as the reader to examine what it is you believe, and to reconcile it with her experiences in order to find a deeper meaning. That, my friends, is why I will always pick up a Barbara Ehrenreich book. She makes me smarter by her thoughtfulness and her literary care.

Hard copy for purchase below:

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