Happy October! 🎃
Here in Tennessee, the leaves are starting to turn and there’s been a refreshing nip in the air. In other words, it’s been perfect weather to cozy up by the fireplace, sip on some steaming tea, and read!
Today, I bring you my latest book review of My Beautiful Detour: An Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful by Amy Oestreicher. Amy is one of the writers in Chronic Illness Truths: The Things We Don’t Say (see my review of this anthology here!) and she generously sent me her own eBook in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Amy!
Author and book info
Amy Oestreicher is a writer, playwright, songwriter, artist, international speaker, health advocate, and so much more! In My Beautiful Detour, Amy shares her multilayered health story of surviving an exploding stomach, her complex relationship with food, and uses her story as a sexual assault survivor to help others find emotional healing.
*Trigger warning: This post and My Beautiful Detour include the topics of food, eating, and sexual trauma.
Three themes I loved (that you’ll love too!)
Before diving into my official review, I’d like to share three beautiful themes that intertwined throughout My Beautiful Detour so you can get a feel for what the book covers.
1. The Hero’s Journey
“Thinking of my endless expanse of “healing” time as a journey rather than “limbo” was massively empowering. A hero is someone who goes through a trauma with a purpose—to reemerge with a gift that heals others.” – Kindle Locations 2386-2388
Amy is truly a warrior. She had over two dozen surgeries, couldn’t eat by mouth for years, and learned to bring her story of sexual assault into the light.
To emotionally and physically cope with these turbulent experiences, Amy imagined herself going through her own Hero’s Journey. She changed her mindset, choosing to see her experiences and healing journey as an adventure.
As an aspiring novelist, I appreciated this Hero’s Journey metaphor. Amy chose to see herself leaving her comfort zone to go on an adventure—one that would undeniably bring trouble, hardships, and pain—to return a changed person with a gift to share.
2. Chasing Hope
“Hope is a job, not a state of mind you turn to.” – Kindle Location 1856
Amy’s story is a tumultuous one. It includes many types of love and loss, years in the hospital, loss of innocence and of self, complex family dynamics….and hope.
But the type of hope in this book isn’t a passive hope that twirls its magic wand and hits you with a spell of hope when you need it. The type of hope in this book—the kind that Amy had—is the kind you fight for. Amy strove for it, chased after it, created it.
As someone living with three chronic illnesses, Amy’s story about constantly creating hope felt so authentic and refreshing to me. It was reassuring that it’s okay to not have hope all the time. It’s okay to get tired of chasing after it. Because this is how hope realistically exists.
3. The Power of Creativity
“I figured out how creativity could satiate me…for just one moment at a time. Creating ruthlessly, recklessly, shamelessly, and resourcefully working with whatever I was given.” – Kindle Locations 2924-2925
To get through her Hero’s Journey, Amy turned to various art forms to bring herself joy and to work through her trauma. She sang, danced, wrote plays, baked, journaled, blogged, and created art. “My life now was the one I was creating—and constantly recreating on my ever-shifting journey.”
I 100% believe in the power of creativity. During the toughest moments throughout my chronic illness journey (at the hospital, waiting nervously for my liver biopsy, during my most painful ulcerative colitis flares) I turned to creativity. Normally it’s writing and journaling, but sometimes it’s painting or coloring. Art is incredibly therapeutic.
My Book Review
Now that you’re familiar with the book, let’s get into my official book review:
My Beautiful Detour is a story filled with growth, acceptance, and resilience.
In its introduction, Amy says, “This book is about energy in all of its forms—in rolling ocean waves, in bursts of creative sketching sprees, in dance, in belly laughter, in brainstorms, and in spirit.”
And I believe this book lived up to that promise. Amy’s health journey is filled with twists and turns and involves some heavy topics, but this recurrence of positive energy and growth is what strings her story together.
By pursuing her own Hero’s Journey, hope, and creativity, her book sparkles with vibrant energy from beginning to end.
I encourage you to pick up a copy of My Beautiful Detour if you’re craving a story about rising up against the odds, braving the unknown, and falling in love with yourself once again.
Where to buy the book and learn more about the author
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