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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Joy Enough: A Memoir


I picked up Sarah McColl's memoir Joy Enough at Book Expo last year on a whim, and it was the perfect size book to read on my way home to Atlanta and then give to mother. 

Sarah McColl has always loved her mother and depended on her for more than she realized. When her mother becomes ill, she must care for her while her marriage is crumbling and her heart is breaking in more ways than one. Can anyone ever find joy when their world is falling to prices around them, or do you just find joy enough in the wake of the destruction? 

I was quite blown away by this slim memoir. McColl is a hell of a prose writer, drawing me in with her raw wet concrete of words, smoothing it out all over the page, and allowing me to read it while it dries. That’s what her prose felt like; a soothing process making her grief permanent so that everyone else can walk on it and experience it. She felt completely exposed in this work, and she allowed me into her world and, even deeper, into her heart, laying near her worst moments so that I could just tangentially feel her grief over the two things she wanted most: her mother and her marriage. 

These books can be difficult for me, because the understanding that I will one day lose my parents breaks me. I recognize how fortunate I am to have them in my life and to have the support and love that they offer. As an adult these relationships are different than they are when we are younger, as it feels as though there is a timer that will one day go off. McColl distantly captures what it feels like when you hear the seconds on that timer counting down. I as the reader wanted to sit down with her so that I could hold her in her grief and figure out for her how to get through it. 

This book is well worth a read from any perspective — McColl’s expression of a time in her life that has shaped her is an incredible read, and I imagine that each person who reads it will get something different from it. 

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