Candles in the Darkness:
A True Story of Faith, Hope & Friendship

by Sally Fugazi & Debbie Harwell

Authorhouse, 2004. ISBN 1414051247.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 10/29/2004

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Relationships

This amazingly comfortable book's "About the Author" page introduces the two authors as follows:

"Two Different Voices... One Harmonious Duo. Sally Fugazi and Debbie Harwell are from completely opposite backgrounds. One is described as a butterfly or chaos, while the other is said to be the worker bee or discipline.

....... Between them, they have over 100 years of fieldwork as real women! It is with a unique set of life experiences that they reach out to women with compassion and understanding through their quirky senses of humor and can-do attitudes."

The premise of this book intrigued me. Two women, who barely know one another, strike up a friendship and nurture it via e-mails. They come to know the depth of a true kindred-spirit relationship as their daily (and sometimes more often) emails unfold lives that are similar in so many ways. They draw strength from one another. They share their joys and heartaches, ups and downs, and even some of the more mundane things of life.

My intrigue came from that sense of knowing before I read the book that it was going to validate a special part of my own life. The above scenario so accurately describes my own relationship with a very special friend who I call my Kindred Spirit and Sister of My Soul. Who would have ever thought to take the e-mails that we have generated over the past few years and create a book to share with women everywhere? Sally Fugazi and Debbie Harwell, apparently!

There are typos. There are interruptions. There are hopes and dreams, jokes and prayers, and everything in between. I have no doubt that any woman who sits down to read this book would not be able to put it down without thinking twice. These women are REAL! Their lives are REAL! And it is highly probable that every woman who reads this book will catch a glimpse of herself or a friend in these pages.

One of Sally's e-mails ends with "Wouldn't it be nice to be sitting on a veranda somewhere, sipping wine, and playing a good game of Scrabble? Love Sally" I smile as I read this line and wonder when Sally had the opportunity to read the e-mail I wrote to my friend Judy asking the same thing. We dream of veranda moments all the time. Obviously, Sally and Debbie do, too.

On another occasion, Debbie writes, "Sharing and talking with you through our e-mails has done much to brighten my spirits and my 'dog days.' What if you hadn't asked for my e-mail address? (Let's don't even go there!)"

Hmmm... Another one of those recurring thoughts in the e-mails Judy and I share.

By the book's end, one feels as though Sally and Debbie are close friends of the reader as well. They are "real" women unafraid to put their hopes, fears, dreams, disappointments, and vulnerable selves on the page for women everywhere to see. They impart practical wisdom, humor, and their own special blend of practical, faith-based principles through their e-mails. Their readers are blessed many times over. These women affirm to readers such as myself that to find one of these rare Kindred Spirit friendships in a lifetime is a huge blessing in and of itself.

You will laugh, cry, nod in agreement, and, no doubt, recognize yourself or another friend or family member within these pages. When the book has ended, the gift the authors have created for their readers will make your heart smile for days and weeks to come.

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