This is going to be the hardest and, at the same time, the easiest review I’ve ever written. To put it bluntly, Tiny Beautiful Things must be required reading for anyone who is a human.
Full disclosure: when my husband left me, I didn’t talk about it for a long while except with him (it was a mostly one-sided conversation) and a handful of very close confidantes. When I opened up my circle of trust, I found what I should have realized sooner was a very good support system in a handful of friends who had experienced similar ends to their marriages. One of them almost immediately upon absorbing my news sent me two books in the mail, and one of them was this, Tiny Beautiful Things, and it came with a warning from this friend: “Highly suggest only reading this one in snippets, do not be shocked by the inducement of violent outbursts of ALL THE FEELINGS.”
The warning was useful and appropriate. It’s not necessarily needed for a reader who is not, as they say, in the shit. But for me, every word was meaningful, and I found myself crying with laughter and sorrow and, most importantly, recognition.
The power of Tiny Beautiful Things is that we’ve all got problems, and none of us is alone. This is the message of Sugar, the anonymous advice columnist who became famous for her frankness, kindness, and sensitivity before she was revealed to be Cheryl Strayed (of Wild fame, etc). Strayed’s advice is always both specific and universal all at once, with enormous effectiveness. She is funny, loving, firm, and honest.
I read as much as I could for as long as I could when I could, reading it in breaks between easier reads and a lot of TV, movies, and podcasts. Then I took about two years off from it. I’m way, well on the other side of that shit now, so I picked it back up last week and finished the final third of it in a day, and still loved the shit out of the rest of it.
Anyone who reads it will be hard-pressed to deny that there is a basic human experience, and that we’re all just trying the best we can. This isn’t a self-help book, it’s a help-yourself-and-also-ask-for-help-and-just-be-a-human book. Warts and bumps in the road, and all.