The Forever Box
by Kristin Clark Taylor

Berkley Books, 2011. ISBN 978-0-425-24196-7.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 05/19/2011

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons

Reading The Forever Box is akin to sitting down at a friend's kitchen table and sharing memories while sipping a cup of tea. Ms. Taylor's writing is encouraging, soothing, and in some instances meditative. The words float off the page like a butterfly taking flight. While there is a little bit of an instructional component to the book, this small volume is so warm and intimate that it feels much like peering into someone's diary.

"I am a memory-maker, a keeper of keepsakes. And within these pages, I issue to you a personal invitation: Learn how to mindfully appreciate the power of preservation... Plucking from the past deepens my spirit and connects me more directly to the wonderous, fast-moving world around me," writes Kristin Clark Taylor. She had my attention from that point on and I was hard-pressed to put the book down after that.

For much of the book, Taylor is her seven-year-old-self, experiencing the world around her with the eyes of a child but with the benefit of several loving, nurturing and influential women; among them are her own mother, her grandmother and a kindly elderly neighbor. There are also a few references to Taylor as the adult mentoring her own children in the process of preserving memories.

Taylor lets her readers peer into her world, her thoughts, and her memories, not only through her engaging words but also with the striking black and white photographs of some of the Forever Box's contents.

Reading The Forever Box, I sense the deep spirituality and comfort that Taylor has gained over her years of memory-making and preserving. She contends that it it not enough to merely put items in a box. Rather, the truly powerful element to the Forever Box is to pair the tangible items placed there with the ability to pass down the values and principles of ancestors. "Principles and life lessons about kindness, compassion, faith, and friendship can all live forever if we work hard to pass them down with care and caution to those newly born and yet-to-be born," she writes. "What a comfort it is to know that our vision and values can burn on as brightly as the North Star—but only for as long as we fan their flames. And how long is that? Forever. If we do it right."

In addition to sharing with her readers the contents of her Forever Box and the stories behind them, Taylor offers her readers helpful hints on how they can become more conscientious memory-makers. These include "Listen Closely, "Keep It Simple," Handle With Care,"(which I particularly liked because she offers practical points on the proper way to store various types of items—forever) and then something I'd not ever considered before: "Create a Quiet Sanctuary" when opening the Forever Box so that the power of those memories and the lessons therein can be fully experienced and appreciated.

For Taylor, the real power of the Forever Box is that it can bind together generations and convey that power beyond ourselves. While I was sad to see the book end, Taylor has inspired me to approach my own memory-making and memory-keeping in a new way.

Former journalist and founding member of the USA Today's original creation and launch team, Kristin Clark Taylor was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She is also a former White House advisor who worked for then Vice President George H.W. Bush as a writer and deputy press secretary. During the presidency of the same President Bush, she became the first woman of color to serve in the capacity of director of White House media relations. Currently, she is a lecturer, communications consultant and author of four books. She lives with her family in Washington D.C. area.

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