The Atlas of Love.

In life it is either feast or famine for me.  I'm a hopeless cause for balance some days and sometimes I just throw all care and worry to the wind and tell myself "it could be worse, I could be a dangerous addict of some kind."  Might sound a bit harsh, but I find it rather amusing (most days).  In the last year I have read more books than I have in the last 5 years.  College fried my brain and my love for reading and it has taken me this long (10+years) to recover and find my reading bug again.  While I was exiting my last career, the stress was SO HIGH.  I would come home at night and want to crawl in a ball and cry, but knew that wasn't always the answer.  I started to see some great book recommendations on Instagram and Facebook and started to read again on my iPad.  I'm a big dork about reading and if it makes my eyes hurt or I can't see the words, I won't do it. **old lady status** The beauty of my iPad is a bright, back light that means I can read in my bed, in the dark.  Perfection.  The last two books I read have been actual hard-copy books, but only because of a random chain of events, including a new light bulb in my lamp.....don't ask.....  The first book I am going to save for a 2nd edition of Beachy Reads & Sunshine Dreams, but the second gets its own post.  Read on, my lovelies!

Do you ever walk into the dollar store and stroll past the books and wonder if it's all crap or if there might be something worth reading hiding in the pile that will only cost you a buck?  On occasion I do, and the last time this happened was when in Idaho visiting my Jo bestie.  She was picking up a few items at the dollar store and the books were in the front of the store...bonus!  I started to dig through them and this book popped out at me.  As you know from my post about Sarah Boucher's book, "Becoming Beauty", I am a sucker for a pretty cover.  I shout praises to authors who have publishers with art departments that know what their doing with cover art.  I mean, I'm only one person, but I take the cover in to serious consideration when deciding whether or not to read a book. 

The front of the book says the following, "This story of women's friendships and redefining 'family' flows with lovely writing."  I could end my review right now because the person who said it was spot on.  But, I'm not!  
There were five themes in this book that I want to briefly address.  They are: friendship, faith, fear, family and love.  

Friendship:  The Atlas of Love is centered around the friendship of 3 graduate students in Seattle.  Talk about three different personalities and family structures too.  The reader quickly realizes that opposites do attract and these three girls are miraculously besties because they are SO different.  The biggest irony of this book is that one of the main characters is Mormon and she's kind of a weirdo.  I can say that because I was raised Mormon and I could tell that the author was very well-versed in her quirky Mormon.  Still so funny, but probably more so because I could relate to it better and have known LOTS of women over the years very similar to this character....let's just leave it there.  The entire premise of this book is friendship through thick, thin, sad, happy, angry and repeat over and over.  

Faith:  As I said earlier, there is a blatant reference to faith because of the Mormon main character, but she does not dominate the faith discussion.  Throughout the book, there is much deliberation about faith in life, faith in God, faith in humanity and faith in what is meant to happen.  Who can relate to that more often than you care to admit?  **pick me, pick me**

Fear:  This book involves a baby.  It involves a baby that is a BIG surprise and thus enters a boat load of fear from numerous characters.  How do you process when life throws you a curve ball that you didn't see coming?  How do you process when life throws you a curve ball that you DID see coming?  That's the toughie for me personally.  Knowing that the end is inevitable because the writing is on the wall so you brace yourself for the impact.  Fear of the future presents itself in numerous forms throughout the book as they deal with an unexpected pregnancy, some broken loves, balancing life and the mourning and coping that goes along with it.  

Family: As I quoted above, the book talks about redefining family.  Without giving too much away (ok, I'll give away as much is on the back cover), these three girls take on the raising of the baby boy who is named Atlas.  They affectionately call it tri-parenting and it sort of works.  They are all insanely busy graduate students so they make the decision that the only way this little boy can have a relatively normal life, given the circumstances, is for them to commit to be mothers together.  It really is a heartwarming and delightful concept in theory, but they soon find that the mamma bear a.k.a. she who cooked and birthed said child is still the final say in all decisions made about Atlas.  One of the things that really touched my heart was the passion that came from the two friends who weren't the biological mothers, but dedicated their lives as if they were his mother.  In addition to their commitment to this little boy, their families also committed to being adoptive grandparents and everything that accompanied these roles.  I related well because I am the proud adoptive aunt of lots of little people who I fiercely love as much as my biological nephews and niece.  Motherhood hasn't been my adventure yet and I am so grateful for the little humans who call me Auntie Ray who aren't biological, but who I love like they were from day one.  
Love: The backbone of any great story is love and this is no exception.  Love is kind, love is selfless, love is patient and love is tough.  And when I say tough, I mean both kinds--the enduring and the challenging.  I know from personal experience that the more deeply we love the more deeply we hurt.  It seriously sucks when it doesn't go in our favor, but it is also the most rewarding and beautiful gift to have in life.  My heart runneth over when I see the beautiful, giggly faces of my nephews and niece via FaceTime and even more so when I get barrel-hugged (a real word) when I see them in person.  The human heart and soul has infinite capacity to love if we will let it.  I will be the first to admit that I am one who can easily put my heart in the deep freeze and let it sit on ice for an indefinite time, but I don't like how it makes me feel.  I want to love and be loved, thus I take risks and embrace my ability to feel the way I feel and live life as it comes.  

The quote above is near the end of the book and it really inspired me.  Not too long ago I referenced "The End" really meaning "The Beginning" and I think this quote attests to that as well.  When we have loved then we can come to the close of a moment and begin the next set of amazing moments.  Love is our focus.  Love can and will continue to reclaim us if we will let it.  And just as this quote says there will be anger AND love, with hefty helpings of both, but love will always win.  I will say it again....love will win if we LET it.  Anger is hella toxic and it can eat you alive and burn your insides if you let it.  Take the time to let friendship, faith, family and love heal your heart because when love is in the air, the next chapter is about to begin.  

The moral of the story:  All you need is love.  The Fab Four knew what they were talking about.  Trust it and let it reclaim you.  

Until next time, my lovelies!

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