CBRV Review #44: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

I have a confession: I’m totally obsessed with advice columns. I don’t know what it is about them, but I’m addicted. I’d heard rave reviews about Tiny Beautiful Things, which is a collection of columns written by Cheryl Strayed for a feature on “The Rumpus” called “Dear Sugar,” and had a gift certificate to a bookstore burning a hole in my pocket, so I decided to give it a shot.

Strayed kind of revolutionized the advice-column genre with “Dear Sugar.” Her responses to the letters published in the collection–some of them dealing with trivial topics, some of them dealing with the deepest of sorrows–are pieces of literature in their own right, containing both advice and insights into Strayed’s own life and past experiences. Her stories (some more obviously relevant to the issue at hand than others) are heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny and make this book one to be cherished and read over and over again.

I LOVED this book. Strayed is just about the wisest, coolest, most insightful human on the planet and comes across as a badass older sister or aunt who just wants to look out for you. I just adore her after reading this. I think the thing I admire most about her is that she’s someone who has experienced more real and true tragedy than I think most people do (abandonment by her father, the early death of her mother, drug addiction, divorce, poverty, loss of friends and loved ones) and yet she seems so together. I freak out about my own life a lot and this book gave me an incredible sense of strength and perspective, like someone knew exactly what I was going through and more, and was giving me the power I need to persevere. This book will make you cry (genuine, ugly crying–it’s just devastating at some points) but will also make you laugh and cheer and want to go out and live your life to the very fullest. It’s a self-help book in some respects, but it’s never cheesy and never resorts to platitudes or false encouragement. It’s genuine, it’s inspirational, it’s fantastic.

Seriously–go read it. Now.

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