Sunday, December 21, 2014

Leon On Me by Anne Marie Miller

“Lean on Me,” subtitled “Finding Intentional, Vulnerable and Consistent Community,” is badly misnamed. It should have been named, “Let Me Lean on You, How I Formed a Support Group with Whom I Was Intentional, Vulnerable and Consistent.” It is really only about the author’s pursuit and finding of her own community, presented as people on whom she called when she needed support; it was not said to be a give-and-take group. Unfortunately for the reader, on page 150 is this disclaimer: “People who like very practical things and how-to guides and instructions for living in better community may be frustrated at this memoir.” That was an understatement. So if you are looking for memoir about how a hand-picked group of people helped a young woman through a trying time, giving her encouragement and support of every kind, challenging her thinking and feelings, and helping her to health and wholeness, then this book is for you. This book chronicles in great detail the author’s thoughts and feelings, sometimes repetitively. The author went through a traumatic divorce and relocated, then realized she was in a bad place emotionally. She called on friends to support her, and they promised to do that. She moved in with an older couple, longtime friends of hers, and began to heal. Here’s a sample of this writer’s style, from page 92: “Healing is disorganized and chaotic and unpredictable. Even after my time in Lincoln, I would feel happy and invincible and whole and my elated heart would sing through my skin. There are the days where I put on a little extra makeup or wore a new shirt or painted my toenails because everything felt right on the inside and somehow I believed my new pink pedicure was representative of the lightness I felt.” First, the reader must tolerate writing that breaks the rules we learned in grammar school, using not enough commas but too many “and”s and “or”s, and, second, be able to stomach all the personal details the author thinks communicate her state of mind with pseudo-articulate phrases such as “my elated heart would sing through my skin” (whatever that means). Also, the word “I” occurs so many times your eyes and even your ears weary of it. Here’s a sample: “I didn’t want to die, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live. I went to Dose, the coffee shop down the road from my house, and before I ordered, I would walk back to my car in tears. I craved isolation.” I would recommend this book only to those who love the author, as only they would be fascinated by every event and narrative, able to overlook the many annoyances to which the objective reader is subjected with regard to both content and style. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

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