Title: The Art of Losing Yourself
Author: Katie Ganshert
2015, Waterbrook Press
Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction
Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.
Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together. But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.
Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?
As always, Katie Ganshert writes a beautiful story. The characters are well developed and the writing is lovely. This was a modern day story, set in Florida’s panhandle. Carmen Hart is the local TV meteorologist and she is married to the local high school football coach. They look like they have the perfect life from the outside… but on the inside they are struggling. They have been trying to have a baby of their own for years now and the longer the process takes, the more withdrawn Carmen becomes.
Enter her younger sister, Gracie. Gracie’s life looks like a total mess on the outside. She doesn’t fit in, her mother is an alcoholic, and she is always getting into trouble in school. When Carmen finds Gracie living in a vacant motel, she takes Gracie home with her and that stirs everything up.
To be honest, I struggled with this book some. Not because the story wasn’t good or because the characters weren’t believable – because they were very real – but because it was very sad. At one point, I put the book down and just had a heavy weight on my chest from all the hurts in this book. Yes, there is hope and redemption and restoration, but the road to get there is very bleak, depressing and hard. My sorrow for Carmen’s character had me feeling her pain on many occasions and I almost didn’t want to continue on at some points because I was afraid of what was going to happen.
My favorite character in this book was Carmen’s husband Ben. He is a wonderful man who is full of integrity and love for his wife, but he wasn’t perfect. There were a couple times I was expecting a royal screw-up on his part (thank you to the author for not letting it happen… I don’t think I could have handled it) but he kept clinging to his faith, his family and his dreams throughout the story.
There are also many colorful secondary characters, Aunt Ingrid who has dementia (also a sad aspect to the story) Elias, Gracie’s friend and Carmen and Gracie’s mom were all great additions to the storyline.
So… if you want to read a beautifully written story of faith and redemption that is woven with realistic life doubts and crisis this is a great read. If you can’t stand sad book, then this is not the book for you.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in return for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.