Esther Bradley-DeTally makes “carrying the heavy stuff” pure delight, a safari of the mind, a Himalayan trek for the soul. Make no mistake, the stuff you are asked to carry is heavy, no frothy meringue in this book – a woman toiling and chaffing at a mindless job, a return late in life to the university and her love of literature, relationships run amok, the pain of sitting by a hospice bedside watching her twin sister die. But the weight is lifted by a lightness of being, by insights and humor to mend the heart and maybe even mankind of its endless pillaging. A few chubby pug dogs add lightness too.

Esther’s sorcery is in the words, images that startle us, mixing the mundane with sublime, Caldwell cows with “haiku coats” grazing outside her dying sister’s window, death the color of a rainbow, like “riding the Ferris Wheel higher than ever before.”

When you read this gem of a book, take along a large empty suitcase for all the “stuff” you will want to collect and carry back home to use daily. Don’t worry about packing hope on top. It’s unbreakable.

Kathryn Jordan, author of the novels, Hot Water (Berkley/Penguin 2006) and Gladys And Capone (2008).

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