02 February 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Illumination – How One Woman Made Light of the Darkness by Sophia Van Buren

It’s tough to review this one because I’m going to try not give away anything from the description because what happens just because she opened that door is one of the biggest surprises I have had when reading a book in a very long time. I should say that the author contacted me and gave me a free copy in hopes I would review it. I was so intrigued by the description that I read it shortly after. Honestly, I wasn’t sure it would be what it was. I thought it would be yet another “woe is me” tale. I figured I’d read part of it and then put it aside. 24 hours later, I was nearly done with it and out a few hours of sleep.

I actually emailed the author back when I was done and asked if it was fictionalized. It seemed too… just too much. Crazy. Insane. Unbelievable. She assures it’s all 100% true. At certain parts, I will admit that I came to be a bit judgmental about the author’s actions. Without giving too much away, she points out in the book just because she’s female doesn’t mean that the rules are different. That being a parent doesn’t always mean doing what makes sense to her heart.

Okay, so… the writing is so well executed. I whipped through reading it blazing fast. Not once did I want to fall asleep or want to put it down for a while or even skip ahead a few pages. She grabs you from those first chapters and yanks you screaming into her world and doesn’t let you go until the end (and maybe not even then). She’s brutally honest throughout – and because of that I kind of wanted to kick some sense into her at parts, wondering why she was allowing herself to be a doormat. And then she got mad. A few sentences where she lays out the truth not only to her readers but to herself make you see this metamorphosis taking place as she’s writing it. At one point I even said out loud “That’s right, get ticked off, you deserve it!”

This is going on my “must read” list for the year for sure. It’s sad. It’s salacious. It’s gossipy in parts. But more importantly, it feels. It feels a lot of things at all different times. You go from reading it with your mouth hanging open to reading it with your jaw set in anger for her. Most importantly, it’s about a woman becoming… becoming who she really is… who she was meant to be… or maybe who she was forced to be. Perhaps all of those women rolled into one.

Recommended mainly for women and for anyone that enjoys memoirs. The author has a prequel coming out in mid 2011. I will be watching for it, but I’m also curious as to what happened next… what’s happening today. It’s an interesting thing with recent memoirs, it feels almost stalkerish to the reader, but perhaps cathartic to the writer.

Read this one. Don’t miss it.

On Sophia van Buren’s 14th wedding anniversary, the police come knocking on her front door. The news they bring about her husband triggers a revelation that instantly causes Sophia’s suburban life to collapse. It destroys one world, but creates another and will ignite something within her, forcing the woman buried under years of diapers and coupons to emerge.

Illumination is not a bitter lament. It’s a modern mother’s odyssey – a quest for hope, levity, and the courage to follow one’s inner light through dark times. Sophia does find hope, but first she must overcome the shadows cast by those conditioned to judge. Ultimately, Illumination is a story of rebirth and true love that begins where Sophia’s previous world ends.

Rating: ★★★★★

Book count for 2011: 7

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