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I must confess that I just finished reading "My Only Story" for the second time. Why does it strike a chord with me? Is it because it's about the complicated relationship sisters have? (I'm the oldest of four sisters) Is it because I love the narrator/protagonist Rita and wish I could meet her? (Yes) Is it because Monica Wood is the writer I strive to be--poetic, succinct, humorous, natural, and filled with heart? You bet! And because she tells a great story. I'm glad it's not "her only story" :-)
Rita wants to help people, heal them, and she's good at it. Little does she know, she needs a healing makeover herself. She's in a rut: divorced, yearning for a child, and fighting a fight she can't win to save her town. When she think she's found happiness and purpose after dreaming of a crippled dog she needs to help, she learns she's only half-way there. Fixing other people isn't enough, you still have to fix yourself, and forgiveness goes a long way. Life is a glorious trip!
This lovely novel tells the story of broken people and their search for redemption in life. Rita, a lonely and reflective haridresser, befriends John, who is suffering from his own demons. John reveals that he has a long-lost neice with whom he is estranged due to a family tragedy. Rita encourages John to reconnect with his neice, and this sets in motion a chain of events that will change all of their lives. During the course of the novel, Rita also reconnects with her estranged sister, who had been living in a cult.
While this plot line may seem absurd from this description, it is refreshingly normal. This story is really about love, loss, forgiveness, family, and finally acceptance. Monica Wood is a stunningly beautiful writer and can convey complex emotions in the most beautiful and simple ways. The book stays with you long after you finish it, as do the characters.
My Only Story is an enchanting book. Wood's mastery of the language creates beautiful, sometimes poetic prose. I fell in love with her characters, who were all engaging and winsome. Even the "bad guys" were compelling, fully realized, struggling with their own devils while hurting the protagonists. The ending was inevitable and believable, and I was sorry to say goodbye to the characters. Wood's ability to express both human pain and human hope is very refreshing. I look forward to reading every word she writes from now on. Also, I strongly recommend her other novel, Secret Language.