Dean Dauphinais Book Review: “Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair” by Anne Lamott

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair (Riverhead Books, 2013) is the perfect follow-up to Anne Lamott’s wonderful Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (Riverhead Books, 2012), which documented three simple prayers that can assist everyone through the rigors and challenges of everyday life.

In Stitches, Lamott explores how we can piece our lives back together and keep going when life hands us—both as individuals and society—difficult or tragic circumstances. She uses personal stories and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to help explain the mending process.

“You have to keep taking the next necessary stitch, and the next one, and the next. Without stitches, you just have rags. And we are not rags,” Lamott writes. “We live stitch by stitch, when we’re lucky. If you fixate on the whole shebang, you miss the stitching.”

And where does one start when grabbing the needle and thread to make that first stitch? “You start wherever you can.”

As is her trademark, Lamott’s outlook on life (“Beauty is a miracle of things going together imperfectly”) and her sense of humor (“I love ritual and repetition. Without them I would be a balloon with a slow leak) are incredibly compelling in Stitches. Her familiar themes of hope, faith, grace, and spirituality run throughout the book, and I love that.

Help, Thanks, Wow helped get me through a difficult time in my life (my son’s addiction). As Stitches arrives, I am going through another challenge that involves the loss of my job and a possible career change. I think maybe Anne Lamott knows when I need a new book to help guide me through life.

I am so happy Stitches has come along when it has. This quote in particular resonated with me: “This is who I want to be in the world. This is who I think we are supposed to be, people who help call forth human beings from deep inside hopelessness.”

I hope I can be that person. Thank you again, Anne Lamott. Your books are my owner’s manuals for life.

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