February 2010 Indie Next List
“Dani Shapiro's new memoir, Devotion, is a book to read, savor, and read again. It is the story of her inner journey as she tries to answer the fundamental questions of what makes a meaningful life. Both very personal and yet universal, Shapiro discusses her own Orthodox Jewish roots, her father's early death, her troubled relationship with her mother, and her subsequent exploration of her own beliefs as her young son raises questions for which she does not feel she has adequate answers. This books is a real keeper.”
— Fran Keilty, Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT
In her midforties and settled into the responsibilities and routines of adulthood, Dani Shapiro found herself with more questions than answers. Was this all life wasa hodgepodge of errands, dinner dates, e-mails, meetings, to-do lists? What did it all mean?
Having grown up in a deeply religious and traditional family, Shapiro had no personal sense of faith, despite repeated attempts to create a connection to something greater. Feeling as if she was plunging headlong into what Carl Jung termed "the afternoon of life," she wrestled with self-doubt and a searing disquietude that would awaken her in the middle of the night. Set adrift by lossher father's early death; the life-threatening illness of her infant son; her troubled relationship with her mothershe had become edgy and uncertain. At the heart of this anxiety, she realized, was a challenge: What did she believe? Spurred on by the big questions her young son began to raise, Shapiro embarked upon a surprisingly joyful quest to find meaning in a constantly changing world. The result is Devotion: a literary excavation to the core of a life.
In this spiritual detective story, Shapiro explores the varieties of experience she has pursuedfrom the rituals of her black hat Orthodox Jewish relatives to yoga shalas and meditation retreats. A reckoning of the choices she has made and the knowledge she has gained, Devotion is the story of a woman whose search for meaning ultimately leads her home. Her journey is at once poignant and funny, intensely personaland completely universal.
“Brave, compelling, unexpectedly witty. . . . Stunningly intimate journey. . . . Thanks to Shapiro’s excruciatingly honest self-examination and crystal clear, lyrical writing, the journey—as secular swami Steve Jobs once famously said—is indeed the reward.”
-People (4 out of 4 stars)
“The one book that anyone over, say, 35 needs to read right now.”
-Jesse Kornbluth, Huffington Post
“I was immensely moved by this elegant book, which reminded me all over again that all of us-at some point or another-must buck up our courage and face down the big spiritual questions of life, death, love, loss and surrender.”
-Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
“Dani Shapiro takes readers on an intense journey in search of meaning and peace. Her story of hope is eloquently told and unflinchingly honest.”
-Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass CastleJeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle
“Dani Shapiro’s novels and nonfiction are always rich in honesty and intelligence, about the psyche and lost hearts and families, about messes and shame and what calls us to transcend.”
-Anne Lamott, author of Grace (Eventually)
“This is a beautiful, wry and moving story about one intelligent woman’s journey into her own life, to the corners where intelligence doesn’t always help.”
-Amy Bloom, author of Away
“I was on the verge of tears more than once in the course of Dani Shapiro’s impeccably structured spiritual odyssey. But Devotion’s biggest triumph is its voice: funny and unpretentious, concrete and earthy-appealing to skeptics and believers alike. This is a gripping, beautiful story.”
-Jennifer Egan, author of The Keep