Someone to Talk To: Finding Peace, Purpose, and Joy After Tragedy and Loss
by Samantha M. White

Yankee Drummer Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-983-21420-5.
Reviewed by Sharon Lippincott
Posted on 09/20/2011

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration

Samantha White uses the term "fractured" to describe her condition years after the trauma of her daughter's tragic death in an auto accident. This word is an apt metaphor for both her life and her memoir, Someone to Talk To. She divides the book into four parts: Falling, Searching, Climbing, and Emerging. Reading it is much like watching a pot as it's knocked from a shelf and shatters into shards, then watching an archeologist painstakingly examine the pieces and fit them back together. In this case, the reconstructed pot has a new form, more pleasing and fulfilling than the original.

The metaphor holds for individual chapters. Each is delightfully short—most only three to four pages—and most are broken into sections. Each crisp thought stands in sharp focus, distinct, yet clearly related to the ongoing saga. This book sparkles with clarity, devoid of frivolous words.

But don't let this hard, sharp metaphor fool you. This story is entirely about a soft human heart. Events recounted during Part One: Falling froze White's heart, allowing it to shatter. From the point of final impact, the reconstruction begins. In Part Two: Searching, the tissue gradually thaws. The plasticity of heart tissue allows it to be reconfigured, but in Parts Three and Four we learn this is not without a price. As she doggedly works through the reconstruction process, her body endures two bouts with cancer. Her recovery is complicated by chronic, crushing fatigue that she went to great pains to deny and hide from her supportive sea of friends and family. Ultimately her body has become her speed governor, forcing her to conform to a lifestyle of serenity, in keeping with the mixture of love and wisdom that glued her heart back together. The final result is a life full of love, abundantly shared with her soulmate, friends, and clients.

White is an avid reader, and piles of books served as instruction manuals along her way, enabling her to find a plan, purpose and passion for life. Her life was her lab to prove their wisdom. Eventually she distilled it to a concise five-ingredient "Recipe for Healing." Her simple recipe comprises an entire self-help book in about sixteen pages, bolstered by the preceding example of her life. She explains that you must experiment and find your own way to apply it to your life.

White's indefatigable optimism pervades her account. Though tears often flowed as I read, I never despaired or doubted that she'd make it through the storm to sunshine at the end, and words she spoke to a client near the end sum it up nicely. She has become God's "staff" for those who walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, encouraging, supporting, and guiding them along the path.

Samantha M. White, MSW, LICSW, is a psychotherapist and life coach in private practice. She has earned college degrees in Pre-Med, Chemistry, Computer Science, and Social Work, achieving her most recent degree, the MSW, at the age of fifty-five. Her career has spanned the fields of medical research, education, health care administration, business and medical, hospice, and clinical social work, and she is a writer, educator, and public speaker. She lives in New England with her jazz musician husband, plays folk harp and percussion instruments, and enjoys kayaking on quiet rivers and ponds. Visit her website.

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