Sunday, March 25, 2012

And the Book Reviews are Coming In...Gasp!

It's hard to believe my book--my first one--will be in stores on Tuesday. That's just two more days! I've been through a roller coaster of emotions, seemingly even more extreme ups and downs lately, during this path to getting published. I've said before: this must be what having a baby is like. Getting a book published is even more so like having a baby in that those who have gone before you fail to tell you everything about what to expect when you're expecting. They don't bother to mention that your ankles will swell to the size of an elephant and your vagina will get torn to shreds. Really. And when your book is a memoir about your husband dying? What can anyone tell you that will prepare you for the emotions that inevitably crop up? How can anyone possibly know that every time you're told, "Congratulations on getting your book published" you will burst into tears with renewed grief? Likewise, how do you stop yourself from responding, "Thanks, but I can't allow myself to be happy because I would rather my husband was still alive than to write a bestseller about his death." But seeing as I have proven to be that pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of gal, I shake it off, regroup, and remind myself that my book might actually help others who have experienced loss. And that ideally it will inspire people to make pie.

So as the reviews begin to come in (see below for The Des Moines Register)--reviews of my deeply personal story, my inner most self exposed to the world--I am channeling my would-be birthing mother, practicing my Lamaze technique, breathing deeply, trying to stay calm and keep the tears at bay. Quite frankly, I'm making a hell of a lot of pie lately. Because if I know one thing through all of this--and I do mean ALL of this--pie really does heal.






Book review: Iowan 
makes peace, pie in 
memoir

“Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss 
and Pie” by Beth Howard (Harlequin
Non-Fiction)

Beth Howard’s first book may make your
mouth water for a piece of homemade pie.
But the memoir will also bring tears to your
eyes.

A Midwest native who graduated from
Assumption High School in Davenport,
Howard does not sugar-coat the grief she
suffers in the aftermath of a sudden loss.
Nor does she ask for your sympathy. What
she does is persevere. Following along as
she deals with the unexpected death of
Marcus, her husband, and the guilt she
feels will make your heart ache for her. But
because of the way she picks herself up,
she does not induce feelings of pity.

In “Making Piece,” Howard weaves her
journey together through road trips, grief
and pie. The book begins with Howard
living in Texas and receiving the phone call
from the medical examiner telling her that h
er husband has died. From then on, she
never seems to stay in one place for long
and grief follows her every step. Howard
takes you from Texas to Oregon, Germany,
California, Iowa and many stops in
between. While moving forward with her
new reality she also reminisces about her
husband, making him one of the main
characters.

While sharing the story of her grief Howard
also shares the story of her relationship
with Marcus. We follow their story from the
end, moving toward the beginning, where
one simple choice (or was it fate?) brought
them together.

And then there’s the pie. There’s apple,
banana cream, strawberry-rhubarb and
more. Her stories of teaching pie-making
classes in Los Angeles are charming.
Howard makes you feel as though you are
shaping the dough right along with her. She
also takes readers to the pie shop where
Oprah has been known to get her sweet
potato pie, the diner that inspired “The
Peach Pit” in the television show “Beverly
Hills 90210” and a place that may be
familiar to many Iowans: the Canteen, in
Ottumwa.

When Howard arrives in Iowa, I found
myself smiling as she experiences the Iowa
State Fair and judges 17 categories of pie
in the Elwell Family Food Center. As most
Iowans know, the competition is fierce, and
she learns just how seriously the judges
take their jobs.

Howard, who currently lives in the
“American Gothic” house in Eldon, Ia.,
doesn’t cut herself any slack in the book,
whether she’s talking about baking, being
a wife or grieving. That fact makes her
more endearing.

— Heather Torpy, special to The
Register