cover image Here If You Need Me: A True Story

Here If You Need Me: A True Story

Kate Braestrup, Author . Little, Brown $23.99 (211p) ISBN 978-0-316-06630-3

I t may take ingenuity to interest browsers in a memoir by a middle-aged mother who, 11 years ago, was suddenly widowed, then became a Unitarian-Universalist minister, and now works as chaplain to game wardens in Maine. But good memoir writing does not depend on celebrity or adventure—who’d have thought that a self-confessed recovering neurotic like Anne Lamott or a monastically inclined poet like Kathleen Norris would make it big?—and Braestrup’s insightful essays are extraordinarily well written, mingling elements of police procedural and touching love story with trenchant observations about life and death. Alert to comic detail even in grisly circumstances (bears, for example, like to play ball with human skulls), she tells stories of lost children, a suicide, drunken accidents and a murder, always with compassion and a concern for the big questions inescapably provoked by tragic events. “Why did Dad die?” her children ask, and her response describes not only her theology but also her reason for being a chaplain: “Nowhere in scripture does it say 'God is a car accident’ or 'God is death.’ God is justice and kindness, mercy, and always—always—love. So if you want to know where God is in this or in anything, look for love.” (Aug.)