Devotion, Dani Shapiro

From the first page, I believed that Dani Shapiro was presenting an honest appraisal of her search for herself and the meaning of her life. As she pretty much bares her soul and her secrets, she seems to be exposing her fears and weaknesses in an effort to face them in the light of day and better deal with them. She worries about things that haven’t happened but devises all sorts of scenarios about what might happen and then spends her time trying to prevent them from happening or prepares for their eventuality. She is wasting a lot of time and effort on imaginary circumstances. It can be exhausting and draining. She is plagued with insecurity. Having suffered through a near tragedy and some loss in her life, she is more susceptible to fears about them recurring; however, I believe that having escaped and/or dealt with the suffering, one usually becomes more sensitive to, and appreciates far more, the meaning of life and its value. Life is seen through the lens of experience and there is an essential feeling of gratitude for the second chance that has been given. There is a feeling that there might be a greater power out there that is controlling events, someone else pulling the strings of the human puppets.
Through various events in her life, she explains the anxiety she experiences, just from living everyday. She connects with the reader and as I began to think about my own life, I remembered how I reacted in similar circumstances. It was as if I was seeing parts of my life through the mirror of her eyes. The writing style is light but the message is deep, not trivial.
At the end of the book, Dani Shapiro is still a somewhat quasi atheist, questioning her beliefs and viewing the world through the teachings of her religious background. She has taken a spiritual journey and, although not actually practicing her Judaism devoutly, she is instead following traditions and rituals. She explores her past, hoping for self discovery, looking inward, mostly through yoga meditation. She constantly engages in soul searching in an attempt to live in the moment and find inner peace.
There are 102 flashbacks which reveal her attempts to analyze and work through her worries; she explores her relationship with her mother, her experiences regarding 9/11, her attendance at AA meetings, her son’s illness, her love for her father, and several other momentous occasions in her life.
Although at first, I wasn’t sure I would like this book as much as I did, I came to really appreciate its message. It made me stop and think about moments in my life, memories that I have not come to terms with, and helped me to view them in another light, more openly and with less sorrow and anger. Her message, throughout the book, is “live safe, live happy, live strong, live with ease”. Paraphrasing from a quote in her book, “don’t live so far into the future that you lose the present”. Enjoy the moment.

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About omasvoice

Who am I? I am you. I am everyone out there who loves to read and discuss and voice an opinion!
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Books for Adults, Non-Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Devotion, Dani Shapiro

  1. mads says:

    you are doing great!!!!! i love it!!!

  2. JoAnn says:

    You wrote “She is wasting a lot of time and effort on imaginary circumstances. It can be exhausting and draining.”

    As someone else who does this, yes, it is exhausting and draining. But I cannot seem to help myself. And I DO “live so far in the future that I lose the present”. I just do not know how to stop doing this!

    • omasvoice says:

      You know, I thought she was using the reader as her psychiatrist’s couch when I first began and I wasn’t happy because, essentially, I thought that should be a private matter between her and whomever. However, as I read, she connected with me. We all experience trauma in our lives and she was making a genuine effort to face hers and conquer them and to discover her inner truths. In some way, she helped me too. We all have demons, ghosts in the closet and get a bit to overworked about things. I don’t do yoga, but her philosophy and exploration of the different religions, made me think about my own reactions and behavior and made me a bit calmer. That, to me, made the book pretty good, even if some people dislike it.

  3. omasvoice says:

    I have only just started to post reviews and comments. It takes time to feel comfortable doing it on my own page. It feels very public and I am usually very private. That is another reason I have not invited many people to read my posts yet. I am glad you are one of the people though, you have made me feel very good about it. Thank you, Joann.

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