The Art of Losing Yourself

The Art of Losing YourselfThe Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert
Genres: Contemporary
Published by Waterbrook Press on April 21, 2015
Pages: 301
Also by this author: The Perfect Arrangement, To Have and to Hold, Life After

 

Carmen Hart is the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to Ben, everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, living in a nice house and attending church on Sundays. From the outside, she 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. After years of desperately wanting a baby, she’s not so sure if He even exists.

When Carmen’s half-sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in, she changes everything. Their mother is off on another one of her benders, and Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel belonging to Carmen’s Aunt Ingrid. Before long, it’s clear that Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for two half-sisters to make each other whole?

Readers who have enjoyed any of Ganshert’s earlier works know that they’re in good hands because she does such a lovely job of tackling serious issues within the context of an emotional story about genuine characters who aren’t afraid to express doubt.

The Art of Losing Yourself packs a lot into one book and touches upon various issues, including what it means to trust God, the love between spouses, the love between sisters, the love between friends, dementia, miscarriages, teenage development, and God’s place in our lives. Readers who have enjoyed any of Ganshert’s earlier works know that they’re in good hands because she does such a lovely job of tackling serious issues within the context of an emotional story about genuine characters who aren’t afraid to express doubt.

Based upon the book’s description, I erroneously assumed it would focus on Carmen. But it alternates between the two characters’ perspectives, and I was slightly less interested in Gracie’s storyline. Generally, this is because I don’t gravitate toward books written from teenagers’ perspectives–not because of any fault with the writing. However, Gracie is a somewhat frustrating character and, although I understand why she kept people at a distance, some of her passages aren’t necessarily enjoyable to read. Even so, I think Ganshert ultimately does a great job showing the progression of Gracie’s character over time and I particularly enjoyed her conversations with her friend, Eli. I’m guessing mothers (or older sisters) of teenaged girls will especially benefit from reading Gracie’s story.

The Art of Losing Yourself digs deep.

At times you want to grab Carmen by the shoulders too. The issues she experiences with her husband, Ben, feel very realistic and I was irritated with her for continuing to push him away, especially when he seemed so patient. Again, this aspect of Carmen’s behavior is necessary for her development as the story progresses. I was especially struck by her growing realization of how she’s wanted a baby more than she wants God.

One slight negative: the alcoholic mother and the deteriorating motel belonging to the aunt both feel a tiny bit tired. Haven’t we all read other stories involving similar plot lines? But of course, this is Ganshert we’re talking about so even if you are–as I was–slightly put off, you know it will be worth your time to keep reading. The writing is superb and the plot moves along at a nice pace. As mentioned above, the characters are multi-dimensional and seem very genuine–with both faults and good qualities.

By the time we arrive at the end of this moving and emotional story, we see how God was present in these characters’ lives all along.

This isn’t a sweet romance novel, although as I mentioned above, the story delves into some serious relationship issues. The Art of Losing Yourself digs deep. That’s one of my favorite aspects of Ganshert’s writing and it’s evident in this book just as it’s been in her other novels. She doesn’t shy away from tough questions, nor does she over-simplify things. The author here is trying to give us genuine characters with messy lives. By the time we arrive at the end of this moving and emotional story, we see how God was present in these characters’ lives all along. Toward the end, Carmen wonders, “When does coincidence stop being coincidence and turn into something else altogether?” God has a plan for Carmen and Gracie. He offers grace. They must simply lose themselves in order to find Him.

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