“Come on, my sister. Don’t wait until you’re not afraid – jump scared.” (p xii)
All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth is a book that will stay with you long after you read it. I finished the book about a week ago and I find myself replaying parts of Edie’s story in my head, remembering her heart and her words. It’s a beautiful and haunting story about Edie’s life, with her relationship with her father playing a central role throughout the book. Memoirs are some of my very favorite books, and this one is so compelling that it almost reads like a fiction story. I kept having to remind myself that it was real. Edie is a superb writer, especially after you get past the halfway point in the book – it really speeds up and pulls you in.
All the Pretty Things is basically the story of Edie’s life from birth to current day. It’s a story of grace and redemption, of grit and determination. Edie grows from a poor little girl with an alcoholic father whom she loved desperately to a successful doctor with kids of her own. My favorite part of the book is how all along the way she loves her people so selflessly and beautifully. I cannot imagine being a child and having to take care of an alcoholic father, going with him to bars to make sure he made it back in one piece, always feeling hungry and never really feeling safe or secure. I also cannot imagine a way to come out of that childhood without intense anger, bitterness or perhaps even walking in the footsteps of her daddy that she loved so very much. Miraculously, she fought against bitterness and anger and instead of resigning herself to the life she was born into, she created the life she wanted through crazy hard work and fierce determination. Her journey is so inspiring. The unconditional love she shows for her father, while wisely learning to create boundaries to protect herself is an incredible lesson to anyone who struggles with difficult or dangerous people.
This book is exactly why it’s so important to tell your story – even (maybe even especially) when it’s painful or difficult to tell. Edie’s story is not entirely unique. There are millions of people who share similar stories of abuse, neglect, poverty or hunger and who will be touched and inspired by Edie’s beautiful words. The vulnerability she displayed by writing about her life is brave and beautiful. I was truly moved by her story.
Some of my favorite Quotables from All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth:
“…however confused I felt, I clung to faith because it was the only thing in my life that made sense, the thing I could count on in a world that was always changing.” (p 127)
“Maybe hope, however frail, was taking root in the deepest places; maybe sunlight and peace really would shine in her heart after the rain; maybe heartache can be the birthplace of the most beautiful things.” (p 135)
“..the painful parts of our lies are often the very things that God will use as gifts to bless and change us and the people we meet.” (p 134)
“The sacred mystery that surrounds death is like nothing else in life, and it is a privilege to walk the last miles home with someone.” (p 208)
“I see now that the heart doesn’t settle easily for blame – it longs to be redeemed.” (p 243)
“I learned that we all have wounds, and we can either open them up to the light of day so they can heal or we can keep them buried, where they will fester and one day wreak havoc on us.” (p 244)
“Parenting and living require more faith than knowledge, more grace than rules, more trust than answers.” (p 284)