“Illusion” was written by a friend of a friend, and the beautiful young girl on the cover is my friend, T’s, daughter. T knows I love to read and then write about what I read, so one week not that long ago she loaned me her copy to read and review.
It’s one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. It reads like an autobiography but is actually a work of Christian fiction based on the author Erin Hicks’ experiences with loss and depression. A few chapters in, I sent a text to T asking if the book really was fiction or was it based on a true story. The first-person voice seemed extremely authentic; I felt like I was reading a true experience, told with the depth and sincerity that only someone who has been there could talk about. Hicks writes in her author notes that the story is fictional but based on some of her own experiences with themes of loss, death and depression.
The book’s title comes from the “illusion” created by main character Rylei Cabot in her attempt to hide her depression and pain after she loses her sister in a tragic car accident. Cabot has a crisis of faith and self that ultimately affects her relationships and her career in such a way that she is forced to confront her issues.
The story also deals with issues of drug and alcohol abuse and attempted suicide.
Hicks is a Mississippi native currently working on her Masters of Divinity and pursuing ordination in the United Methodist Church. “I wrote this book after having numerous youth, and adults, ask me how I get through difficult times in my life,” Hicks writes. “This is my answer for them, in narrative form, about how hope can be found even in the darkest of places at times. My goal with this book, as with any writing, is to bless the reader.”
The short: Hicks impressively uses a fictional story to share authentic and powerful insight into very real issues that secretly plague many people.
I don’t talk about it much, especially not on here and especially not the past year and a half.
By “it” I mean that I’m a widow and/or a single mom.
I don’t talk about it because I don’t want it to define me.
I don’t talk about it because most times it’s not relevant to what I do want to talk about.
I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to become bitter or whiney.
Et cetera, et cetera.
The last year and a half, though, I’ve not talked about it because someone saw me mention on here the difficulty of being a single parent and saw me post on Facebook last year an article about suicide awareness month and accused me of “playing the widow card.”
I’m not even entirely sure what they were trying to say, but I was hurt and shamed. They told me they didn’t understand why it was so hard for me to deal with my husband’s death and suicide and grief because I hadn’t wanted to stay married to him anyhow.
We had problems. Big ones. I thought they were too far gone to fix. I thought that if the problems couldn’t be fixed I wanted out of the marriage. I thought that problems too big to fix were an excusable reason to break my vows.
For the record: I was wrong.
But wanting the problems to go away and thinking separating/divorcing would do that is a far cry from wanting someone to die.
I didn’t want him dead. I didn’t want him to take his life. I didn’t want my boys to lose their dad. I wanted more and better, not less and worse.
So I’ve been quiet about the grief and the hurts and the struggles of loss and of picking up the pieces.
I was shamed and ashamed. But there’s been such spiritual richness during this time too that it’s a shame, too, not to share my various questions and thoughts and experiences.
So I’m done feeling shamed and ashamed.
I accept God’s grace. And if some part of my experience — the good or the bad — can minister or help someone else, that’s awesome. That’s why I share, not to seek or gain sympathy but to put out there something real and genuine that may seem hopeless but isn’t because with God we are never without hope.
And maybe someone out there going through similar things will feel not so alone and will feel hope.
We finally made it over to Supper Heroes restaurant last weekend.
In our neck of the woods, locally-owned burger and chicken places pop up from time to time. We definitely like to try new places and sometimes take others there or make it a family favorite.
Every thing I’d heard about Supper Heroes from those who had been there was good, and we had to, of course, check it out for the superhero theming.
We all ordered pretty “safe” entrees, nothing too out there, ahtough the menu packs lots of variety. The boys had chicken fingers and I got a bacon cheeseburger. I had to try the fried green tomatoes too, because fried green tomatoes are my favorite vegetable.
It is still considered a vegetable, even if you batter and fry it … right?
The burger reminded me of a Red Robin burger but on sourdough toast. The green tomatoes weren’t the best I’ve had but it may be because it’s too early in the growing season to have them fresh. I’ll just have to try them again. ;)
Finn didn’t have much to say on the chicken — keep reading for his full review – but he liked watching Star Wars Episode 1 on the flat screen while we were there.
The favorite part for Caden was that the dessert that came with the kids meal was your choice of a Little Debbie cake. (And, being allowed to play his brother’s iPod during the meal. He wouldn’t even look up for a picture.)
I don’t generally eat slaw but the look of this slaw was intriguing. It little red flakes in it that turned out to be cayenne pepper. The slaw was kinda sweet, so the cayenne gave it a sweet-heat flavor.
I saved the best review for last though.
From the outside, you wouldn’t even know there was a restaurant in the building, much less a super-hero restaurant.
So Finn, the thoughty 9-year-old he is, said:
“From the outside it looks kinda boring, but on the inside it’s pretty awesome.”
Check ‘em Out @ 1812 Winchester Road (Huntsville AL).
Week two in the Rocket City Bloggers year long blogging challenge: Why Huntsville?
The question to transplants is when did you come to Huntsville and why. For a native, like myself, why did you choose to stay.
Well, my story is that I left and came back.
The touchy-feely answer to why I came back is that Huntsville is home. The practical answer though is that when I made plans to leave, I was 18 and in love and thought I’d follow him anywhere. I’d never lived anywhere else or really even been out of the south for any significant amount of time. We were about to be newlyweds. Moving away was appealing.
When I moved back, four years later, moving back was appealing. I was pregnant with my first son when the decision was made to move back home. That wasn’t the primary motivating factor behind the move, but a huge part of the choice to move to Huntsville specifically was to be closer to family and to raise children close to their grandparents.
As one of my favorite Sheryl Crow songs says, “Sometimes you gotta get away to wanna go back home again.”
I’ve wondered recently how long I will stay here. At some point, will the things that keep me here no longer be valid. My sons, for example, talk about going to college in cities and states that aren’t Huntsville. The oldest, born out of state, has the notion that he wants to college in the state and city where he was born. My youngest wants to follow his brother or go to Auburn. Neither seem interested in staying here for college. Youth is the prime time to explore, so I say go for it. Also, they’re in elementary school. A lot can change on how far from home you’re actually willing to go once it’s actually time to go.
But let’s say for the sake of discussion that they go off to school. Finn goes to IU and Caden goes to Auburn. What would keep me here if my sons are somewhere else?
Huntsville has been home my entire life because it’s where my family is, so there’s some temptation to say that as long as I have family here — whether it be my parents, my sister, my kids, etc. — Huntsville will be home. It’s possible too that even if or when the boys are gone, that a spouse (if I’m married) or my career may be enough to keep me here. But I think there’s something even beyond that.
Even if all those reasons are gone, it’s home because it’s where I come from.
It’s not home because I live here currently but because I was born and grew up here. Even when I live somewhere else, I’m still from Huntsville.
When I lived out of state those four years I’d leave my home to come home, and then leave home to go back home. Home was both where I lived and where I was from.
I am proud to be from here, to know the city’s stories and past, and to experience it morph and mature.
I may move away again, someday. But Huntsville will always be home, it will always be where I’m from.