Let’s be honest. I started writing this review when I was just 4 chapters into the book. What can I say? I was hooked by the first line and already wanted to cry midway through the second chapter. The book hit the write strings.
My parents have been telling me to read this book for some time. They even bought it through Amazon and sent it straight to my address; there’s no clearer way to say “Read!” I put it off for some time while I read some of the graphic novels I had lined up (there’s some reviews on that coming up!). Until the fateful day came when I reached for Rod Dreher’s book, inside the bus, going downtown. I read the first line, then almost missed my stop because I didn’t want to stop reading. I had to go back to it later — on the bus ride back.
First things first: you don’t have to read Dante’s Commedia to enjoy this book. Although reading Dreher’s book might have you reading the Commedia in the end, just like it has my mom. Now we can proceed.
Dreher has a beautiful prose, and weaves together memoir, poetry and real-life applications. The book is intended for any audience, as he makes sure to create paths for inclusion for those of faith, Catholic or not, as well as for the atheist and agnostic.
I can’t help but share it in his own words, because for me they were so beautiful: “It’s a book for people who have lost faith in love, in other people, in the family, in politics, in their careers, and in the possibility of worldly success.”
At the beginning, he gives a quick overview of his life, in similar fashion to a memoir. But he ties it in with what’s coming up: Dante and the impact the poet has had on the author.
This section deeply moved me because of how much I saw myself in Dreher. We’re both intellectually driven, both book worms, we both have somewhat complicated relationships with our parents.
Even though our lives are completely different, he is able to tie his own life to broad universal themes: our sense of exile – even when we go back to our childhood towns. I even wrote a very similar piece about this feeling – although poorly written in comparison, here.
I’ll fill you guys in on the rest next week, once I’m finished reading it!
But in the meantime, what do you think? Which books have just grabbed you by the soul? Do you also feel a sense of exile, no matter where you are?