As a big fan of author Jo Kadlecek’s Lightfoot trilogy about religion reporter Jonna Lightfoot Maclaughlin and who, in fact, gave a cover endorsement for the final book A Minute Before Friday, I was eager to read Kadlecek’s nonfiction musings in Woman Overboard: How Passion Saved My Life. Full disclosure leads me to confess that I am generally a bigger fan of fiction’s showing than nonfiction’s telling.
Furthermore, I have favorite nonfiction authors and favorite fiction authors but rarely does one cross successfully to the other as far as I’m concerned. For example, I enjoy Frederick Buechner’s and, to a lesser extent, Anne Lamott’s nonfiction books. But I just don’t get their fiction. Rare examples of writers whose fiction and nonfiction are equally enjoyable for me are Madeleine L’Engle and Randy Alcorn. To that list, I can add Jo Kadlecek. At least as far as Woman Overboard is concerned.
In this slim volume’s seven chapters plus prologue, epilogue, and an appended collection of “Life Preservers,” Kadlecek takes a definitive and anecdotal look at the well-lived life. Definitive in that she opens each chapter with etymologies of words, such as “adventure,” “vocation,” “suffer,” and of course, “passion,” with its close companion, “compassion.” Anecdotal in that she frames her musings with biographical anecdotes from her childhood up to the present day. In so doing, Kadlecek combines her gift for storytelling with clear-headed yet emotional brief essays on what gives life meaning, how do we find it, embrace it, and live it with passion when so much of our ordinary days seem bogged down and distracted.I took about a week to read this less-than-200 page book, because though its chapters are brief, its revelations are not ...
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