cover image The Heart of Perfection: How the Saints Taught Me to Trade My Dream of Perfect for God’s

The Heart of Perfection: How the Saints Taught Me to Trade My Dream of Perfect for God’s

Colleen Carroll Campbell. Howard, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-1-9821-0616-4

Campbell (My Sisters the Saints), a journalist and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, balances confessional anecdotes with persuasive modern interpretations of the lives of the saints in this enjoyable testimony. Campbell links theological teachings about perfection with the psychological concept of perfectionist behavior. They are not the same thing, she writes, but can help readers to think about connections between Christian teachings and the psychology of perfection. She does this through insightful readings of the lives of seven saints whom she characterizes as “recovering perfectionists.” For each, she uncovers the real human who became a timeless role model through spiritual hard work, and also speaks about how those experiences relate to her daily life raising and homeschooling twins. Patience is demonstrated by Saint Jane de Chantal, a “Type-A seventeenth-century French wife, mother, widow, and nun... and also unlikely patron of saint of gentleness,” and discernment by an “impetuous” Saint Ignatius, known as the “mystic of moods and thoughts.” Campbell is a fluid writer, making her histories and personal anecdotes blend seamlessly, as when she compares her love for the ocean (which she now sees in her kids) as a metaphor for the leap of faith. For Catholics who want to live their religious convictions more fully, Campbell is a good guide to everyday practice, and perfectionists of any religious persuasion will also benefit from this gratifying work. Agent: Lisa Jackson, Alive Literary. (May)