Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Knitting Circle book

I just got done reading "The Knitting Circle", Ann Hood's moving account of how a grieving mother survives the loss of her only daughter from an illness. Although the book is fictional, it parallels Hood's own loss of her daughter and how joining a knitting circle saved her life.

It is a book that is simple in its words, understandable in it's grief and acutely moving as it shows you Mary Baxter, the main character, unraveling in the year following the loss of her daughter. I found myself unable to put the book down. It was not only because of the story plot, which moved relentlessly along, but also because I could identify with her feelings, her emotions and her actions as she plotted along day after day, keeping to herself mostly.

Anyone who has lost a child for any reason will be able to identify in some part with this book and what Mary goes through that first year as well as those who have had other types of loses. I say 'identify in some part' because there was a point where I wanted to yell at Mary, "All right, enough is enough, get out of bed, try to help yourself, try to move on." That is where the book dragged a little, but what kept it going for me were the stories Mary hears from the other women in her knitting circle as they all eventually open up to her while teaching her new knitting techniques.

The knitting circle becomes Mary's grief group as each person in the group reveals their darkest secrets. Knitting is the tie that binds these women together and helps them move towards healing their deepest scars.

They say that when you help someone else, you end up helping yourself. This is what I believe happens to Mary in the book and it is the reason to keep reading. As Mary drags herself to the knitting sessions, she learns of the other women's tragedies, albeit different but no less horrible than her own. One can see the comparison of the unraveling of the stories to the unrolling of a bulk of yarn that is to be knitted.

You are always routing for her. I'd say to Mary as I read, "Come on, Mary, do something about your situation. I felt many of the same feelings you are feeling, but perhaps I was lucky. I was able to accept what happened, not happily you understand, but with the knowledge that sometimes life tests you to see how strong you are. And sometimes you pass the test while other times it is too hard for you." I rooted for Mary to find her way, to realize the importance of telling her own story to others as part of her healing process and to realize the knitting circle would change her life.

Without revealing the end of the book, just know that this is a good read and one that will keep you engrossed the entire time. Perhaps we should all learn to knit as a way to calm our nerves, our heart and our lives.

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