What Makes a Hero?

My Hero – Sue Monk Kidd

I first became acquainted with Sue Monk Kidd through her best-selling novel, The Secret Life of Bees. I picked it up, not because it was on the New York Times list, but at the recommendation of my sister. She pushed it my way saying, “I think you might enjoy this book.” I was in an incredibly tiresome season of life and was eager to escape into a good story.

Many might argue that you can’t learn much about a person from their fictional stories. I tend to think fictional authors aren’t so much hiding from reality, but attempting to birth an even fuller, more vibrant and insightful reality. That’s what Sue Monk Kidd does in her writing and she does it so emotively. In The Secret Life of Bees, the main character is a little girl who witnessed the death of her mother and is trying to escape the wrath of her father. Sue tells this tragic story through the eyes of a girl on a quest to connect with her dead mother. And in doing so brilliantly calls out her wisdom, humor, and redemptive capability that is true, not just of this child character, but of us adults as well. I liked the book The Mermaid Chair even more. It’s a story about a woman who in her mid-life suddenly goes searching for herself. She gets swept up in an affair with a monk. It’s the most absurd thing you can dream up but the emotions of the main character are all too real. And at the end the character Jessie resolves within herself:

All my life, in nameless, indeterminate ways, I’d tried to complete myself with someone else – first my father, then Hugh, even Whit, and I didn’t want that anymore. I wanted to belong to myself.

This deeply resonated with me and intrigued me because at the same time, I was reading Sue’s nonfiction book, When the Heart Waits. I slowly became aware of similarities in her novel and in her spiritual memoir. Sue’s spiritual insights are incredibly profound, and probably controversial among conservative types. She combines her Baptist upbringing with a monastic approach to faith which is refreshing.

I admire Sue for not only her honesty with herself, but with others through her published writing – both fiction and non-fiction. It must take great courage and effort for Sue to tell her stories to millions of others. At a young age Sue knew she had a knack for writing but she didn’t return to her calling until right before she turned thirty. The urge was so powerful it forced her to redirect her life as a nurse to being a full time writer. Not everyone has such a creative and powerful gift and fortunately Sue chooses to use it in a way that gives back. Although much of her writing stems from her personal soul work, she tells these things so that others may learn and waken up to beauty as well. I see her contributing to humanity in the way she was meant to from the beginning. I love how she gives her readers such enjoyment through the lives of her characters. That was her gift to me with her very first book and it is today with The Dance of the Dissident Daughter sitting on my bedside.

My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!

Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!

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