cover image Anchor & Flares: A Memoir of Motherhood, Hope, and Service

Anchor & Flares: A Memoir of Motherhood, Hope, and Service

Kate Braestrup. Little Brown, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-37378-4

Braestrup (Here if You Need Me) cuts an intriguing figure in her warm, thoughtful chronicle of her time in the trenches as a parent and on the job. A mother of four with two stepchildren from her second marriage, she goes for a Masters in Divinity as a young widow and becomes a chaplain to the Maine Warden Service, wearing what a poet described as "SWAT-Team pastorwear." Her job is to comfort the friends and family of those missing or killed, and provide support to the wardens who go on rescue and recovery missions. Braestrup is not, however, a stereotypical Bible-thumper. As a young mother in the 1980s who gave her children feminist interpretations of "The Three Little Pigs," she was preoccupied with her little boys becoming "agents of oppression" and dressed them in pinks and florals, while her daughters were encouraged to get their overalls messy. She regularly questions her skills and the lessons she has passed on,. When her oldest son, taking a page from his grandfathers who joined up, decides to enlist with the Marines at 17, she wrestles with the standard set by the men in the family while contemplating whether she has prepared him to stay true to himself and maintain a moral compass that will give him courage and keep him safe. Braestrup's compassion, grace, and wisdom come through loud and clear. Agent: Sally Wofford-Girand, Union Literary. (July)