This book should come with a warning – or maybe more than one! I didn’t cry while I was reading but have cried since finishing the book last night a minimum of three times just thinking about everything I read and felt.
I’ve read all of Ganshert’s novels so I knew there would be a serious side to at least one character but nothing could have prepared me for the emotions I felt as I connected with Carmen. No, we haven’t gone through the same exact struggles but like her I have experienced secret pain and sadness and really empathized with her character. And I can only imagine quite a few teenagers could at least sympathize with some of Gracie’s problems in life especially bullying and peer pressure at school and a divorced alcoholic mother at home.
Ganshert’s use of first person for both Carmen and Gracie’s alternating viewpoints in this book really sets the tone for their stories. I appreciated the headings for each section telling me which character was talking but their voices were so strong and distinct that I would have known who it was anyway. And the dialogue – especially the conversations between Ben and Carmen were perfect. You could hear the hurt and pain in both of their voices and could almost see the looks on their faces. Carmen’s flashbacks were a little challenging for me to keep up with but were such a great addition to the story that it didn’t distract me and thankfully kept the pace of the story moving instead of slowing it down. I loved how effortlessly she moved from Carmen to Gracie without losing me. Sometimes in books written this way I find myself wanting to skip chapters just to get back to my favorite character’s point of view but I never felt that way in The Art of Losing Yourself.
This story is full of tension. Carmen and Gracie both have an overwhelming amount of internal conflicts in their lives but those of course spill out into their relationships with everyone around them. It was especially amazing to see the growth in Gracie’s life as love and the right kind of attention were poured into her life. It was evident reading this book that Ganshert truly understands the types of hurt her characters portrayed.
I love anytime a book gets two romance stories in one. It was cute to watch Gracie falling for a guy but it was so realistic to see the romantic tension in Ben and Carmen’s marriage. They definitely experienced real life issues. However, when they “made up” it did seem a little too fast for me. But I loved that they were finally communicating with each other on a deep level. I also appreciated that Carmen portrayed a woman struggling in her personal spiritual life. I love it when characters have real life issues but somehow find a way to grow closer to God throughout the story. That is why I read Christian Fiction. I want to learn from the characters in the book.
Ganshert has such a gift for taking hard subjects and turning them into spectacular material for a novel. Even though this book covers some difficult topics (bullying, peer pressure, alcohol, marital discord, and miscarriages) she does it in such a way that it actually helps people that have dealt with those or similar issues. I found myself mulling over this book for a long time after I finished reading it. I just couldn’t get enough of the lessons the characters learned about life. I would recommend this book to anyone but especially to women who have dealt with great loss or suffering in their lives. I lost sleep finishing this book and I lost sleep after I finished reading because I was so caught up in Ben and Carmen’s lives. I’m really hoping for a sequel!
Waterbrook Press provided me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.