met Maria Santomasso-Hyde in her art gallery in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful art, all sorts of country paintings. But then we got to talking. We’re both writers. We’ve both lost cats. Then she mentioned she had a book she was selling off a stack to one side, an autobiographical work she’s put together. Of course, I almost always buy such things – you gotta help those as hungry as you, right?
Maria’s deal is that she’s very Christian and very loving, so when she went through a year where she lost nine loved ones (her mom, her loyal dog, and three cats from the barn, along with various other humans), she had to start looking at God critically. In her mind she had a scorecard, with GOD: 9 MARIA: 0 on it. She didn’t quite come out and damn God, but she wanted answers. Why did she have to go through this? Why did He take all her loved ones away?
Written from different points of view, the story leaps from herself to her husband to her mother, to the ghosts of the departed, to the animals in her life (so maybe it’s not quite autobiographical, by definition). But yes, having just had a dear cat pass which left an aching hole in my life, I was asking the same questions. And Maria nailed that sense of loss, so much that two times I found myself reading while tears streamed down my cheeks. Tough tale, well written.
I won’t go into how Maria pulls herself together, what steps she goes through and discoveries she makes. It was just a beautiful book, one that flows like water in a mountain stream, every now and then tossing off a thoughtful splash. I really enjoyed it –so much that I’m going to put a link at the bottom of this review.
If you have suffered a loss, skip the self-help books. Have a look at this one to restore some sort of meaning in your life. It helped me, and I’m certainly not a traditional Christian reader.