Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review: Gravel On the Side of the Road

By Kathryn Hamilton

How do you define extraordinary? What do you consider ordinary? When it comes to life experiences, many of us would say we lead ordinary lives that are really "nothing to write home about." After all, most of us are not journalists who have gone to war zones or worked with the FBI. Kris Radish has done all that and so much more, creating the foundation for remarkable stories. Gravel on the Side of the Road is a collection of moments/experiences/anecdotes that Ms. Radish has written throughout the years and put together in this memoir that stays with you long after you turn the last page.

I'll be the first to admit that initially I was unsure how I was going to review this novel as it is written in a style I am not used to and does not have the elements that I typically discuss. Each "chapter" is a separate memory that is not connected to the next. My poor organization-obsessed brain struggled to find the reason it was ordered the way it was (it is not chronological or thematic). Eventually, I had to force my mind to abandon this need and simply read.

Ms. Radish is an exceptionally talented writer. She is also compassionate, brave, insightful, and given her career choice in journalism, a definite adventure seeker. She has the ability to write with such detail and emotion that the reader gets a sense of being in each situation. For me personally, this meant that while reading two of the stories, I had to physically put the novel down and walk away because Ms. Radish had so poignantly expressed experiences that took me right back to a very emotional place. This is by no means a criticism; it takes a special kind of writer to be able to describe something in such a way that the reader is transported to their own experiences. She is so eloquent and beautiful in her craft that I am in awe. If I'm honest though, I found myself in awe of her simply because of the person she is. Readers immediately get a sense of this woman from the first paragraph and she is nothing short of fabulous for many reasons.

Despite her insistence in the introduction that many of her experiences have been ordinary, to the reader, it doesn't seem like this is the case. However, I do appreciate the message: there are extraordinary moments in all of our lives and we need to learn to revel in those as well as appreciate them for what they are. It is these moments that shape our lives and give them meaning.

Thanks to BookSparks for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Kris Radish:

1 comment:

Lea said...

Thanks for your review. She is one of my favorite authors, I've read all her novels. I'm excited to get this book.