Thursday, March 19, 2015


Author: Shauna Niequist
Publisher: Zondervan
February 2013
ISBN:  978-0310335283
Genre: nonfiction / memoir

“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”

The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and re-weaving the way I understand life. Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness.

It’s the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, audacious, earthy.

This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it’s incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God’s hand, which is where you wanted to be all long, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be. 

I’ve learned the hard way that change is one of God’s greatest gifts, and most useful tools. Change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we’ve become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways. I’ve learned that it’s not something to run away from, as though we could, and that in many cases, change is a function of God’s graciousness, not life’s cruelty.

My thoughts:  I love the quote at the top of this review. It is so wise. We need to celebrate the good times—and to grow from the bad, and in all things, give thanks. 

I enjoyed Ms. Niequist’s voice in this collection of essays. She is real, honest, and to-the-point. With a conversational style, she isn’t just talking at us, she is showing us through her life experiences the lessons she learned.

The only thing is, I feel like I stepped into the middle of the story. I was confused in some areas and would’ve liked more information. But that might be just me.  I also have already lived through most of her “stories” so they aren’t relevant to a woman  who is grown (40 plus) so much.

If you are looking for a book on “change, grace, and learning through the hard times” and are a young adult (20-30 year old) then BITTERSWEET is a book to consider. Pick up your copy today.

 Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio. 256 pages

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