Shauna Niequist, author of Cold Tangerines, returns to writing and her signature style of simple but poignant observations on faith in everyday life in her latest book Bittersweet. Subtitled thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way, Niequist does not shy away from discussing her own personal struggles and pain. Her candid honesty and conversational tone connects the reader to her words and her life making her message stronger, clearer, and more profound.

Each of the small chapters works as a stand-alone essay, but they all tie together smoothly. Whether reading one passage at a time or several in one sitting, the book has a smooth pace. Niequist is ultimately quotable, too; and I found myself dog-earring multiple pages knowing that there were several lines I wanted to come back and reflect on at a later time.

The title of the book comes from Niequist's idea that a full life requires both bitterness and sweetness. She says, "When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow." In a later chapter about friendship and the trap of always trying to appear perfect she explains, "We slip into believing that it's better to strive for perfection than to accept and offer one another grace." And among many brilliant thoughts on writing she offers the insight, "Writing wakes me up, lights me on fire, opens my eyes to the things I can never see and feel when I'm hiding under the covers, cowering and consumed with my own failures and fears."

Niequist is not ashamed to share her "failures and fears" with the reader but it is obvious that what she states about writing is true. In the written word she truly does shine, and her words are perfectly chosen and powerful, creating a work to be reread, reflected on, and ruminated over long after the final page is turned.

5 Response to "Bittersweet"

  1. Ellen aka Ellie says:
    October 25, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    For my birthday, I received two copies of the same book from two thoughtful friends! Great minds do think alike. So, I'm returning one to get this one. Can't wait to read it!

  2. Jennifer Perry says:
    October 26, 2010 at 7:58 AM

    Must admit I had not heard of Shauna Niequist before. Now that you've 'introduced' us, I'm eager to get "Bittersweet" asap.
    Thank you,

  3. Anonymous Says:
    October 26, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Lisa :) I won this book in a contest. I love the Title as I often find life to be just that ... Bittersweet.
    I look forward to reading this book, but I want to savor it like a fine chocolate, not devour it like a bag of M&Ms. Thanks for your review!

  4. Sam (Tiny Library) says:
    October 26, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    That sounds like an interesting read, I hadn't heard of the author before. The title is fantastic too.

  5. Sandy says:
    October 27, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    ooh, interesting. I hadn't heard of Niequist's book until now... I'll look out for it next time I go to the library.

    And can I say that I LOVE that cover? I'm hungry now :)

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