If you are an Amy Grant fan, as I admit unabashedly to being, you will love this book because it so quintessentially Amy. Her personality comes through on every page, whether song lyrics, prose or poetry. This is a loosely woven look at Amy's life and what has been, and is, important to her as Amy Grant Gill, daughter, sister, wife, mother, co-worker and friend. If you are not already a fan, you'll find that this book offers intimate insights into the life of a major recording star and public figure turned memoirist.
At age 48, Grant is defined more by her relationships than she is by her music or her career. Indeed, those are but a reflection of the person she has become. She says of this stage of her life: "The beauty of being in the middle of my life is the vantage point it provides. From my forties I can look ahead to my parents navigating old age at full tilt and take mental notes about what lies ahead. Even from here I can see that growing old is not for the cowardly. At the same time I can look back to childhood and the young-adult years with more understanding and compassion for myself in retrospect, for my children and for all the young people I know who are swept up in the swirl of the early decades of life." (p. 117)
The book is full of vignettes about important people in her life, from Uncle Larry, whom she never knew, to a friend ill with cancer, to her greatly valued crew of managers and musicians. Inserted throughout are song lyrics and poems which serve to highlight her musings and recollections. She shares uplifting accounts of her journey, beginning as an awkward 16-year-old singer and becoming an accomplished mega-star in both Christian and contemporary music. Grant has certainly won her share of awards. She has dined with, entertained for, and been a personal guest of presidents. Still, she seems at times in awe of all she has achieved.
Grant never denies that there have been rough times in her life, including a divorce from first husband Gary Chapman, father of her three older children. She never asks for the reader's sympathy nor does she offer excuses. She doesn't mention the very public outcry when it was learned that a Christian artist was divorcing. She easily could have slipped into self-pity when she was maligned by those who were more interested in her supposed sin than in her singing. She mentions the divorce only in terms of how she struggled with her own failure and rebuilding her broken family. Her marriage a year later to Vince Gill became more fodder for the gossip-mongers, since these Christian stars, both divorced, were now marrying. They could have retreated from the public eye but both chose to stand with their heads high and proclaim publicly how blessed they were to have found one another. Now, years and their daughter Corrina later, their relationship is quietly serene.
Amy's attitude toward hard and trying times is reflected in something her dear friend Sarah Cannon (aka Minnie Pearl) told her. "Black is most important color for an artist. You see, without black there is no depth. Without black everything appears flat." (p. xvii) Having endured bleak times,Amy found this to be true in her own life . These, she says, "add depth to every other experience...Seasons of darkness have made the landscape of my life richer, but I am grateful to say that my days are overwhelmingly filled with light." (p. xvii) These black "lines" have served to pull together the mosaic that is Amy's life so far.
For those of us to whom writing is important, what she had to say about writing and writers seems at first whimsical and then very perceptive. "I've always believed that real writers are formed from the ground up. They know from the beginning that they want to write, they dream of writing, they keep their noses to the grindstone for years, they suffer rejection after rejection from publishers, and finally one day, miraculously, they get a breakthrough. Real writers emerge from some magical, solitary existence, having lived an otherworldly life." (p.xv) Still, she decided to write although she was unsure how to start. She discovered, as oftentimes happens to those who dare to put their pen to paper, several unexpected blessings.
"Compiling this collection of memories has had two profound effects on me.," she writes. "The first and most obvious would be that I have spent a lot of time reminiscing, and that has made me grateful for all the people and experiences in my life." Then she says: "Thanks to writing and remembering, I'm reinspired to value both the mundane and magical moments. Some days are crowded with details and others with sweet hours of peace and beauty, but whatever they hold, I don't want to miss a thing. In trying to capture a few memories as best I can, I give myself the gift of treasuring what has been so far a very full and meaningful life." Not bad for someone who didn't think she was a writer.
Amy Grant is a singer-songwriter, best known in Contemporary Christian and pop music, having sold over 30 million units worldwide. Her first album was released during her senior year in high school and she has been a force in American music ever since. Grant has won six Grammy Awards, 21 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, and had the first Christian album ever to go Platinum. She has also hosted a reality TV show, Three Wishes. She now lives in Nashville with husband Vince Gill and their children. Visit her website.
Authors/Publicists: For promotion purposes, you may quote excerpts of up to 200 words from our reviews, with a link to the page on which the review is posted. ©Copyright to the review is held by the writer (review posting date appears on the review page). If you wish to reprint the full review, you may do so ONLY with her written permission, and with a link to http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org. Contact our Book Review Editor (bookreviews at storycirclebookreviews.org) with your request and she will forward it to the appropriate person.