Devotion: A Memoir

Devotion: A Memoir

by Dani Shapiro

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Overview

Devotion’s biggest triumph is its voice: funny and unpretentious, concrete and earthy—appealing to skeptics and believers alike. This is a gripping, beautiful story.” —Jennifer Egan, author of The Keep

“I was immensely moved by this elegant book.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

Dani Shapiro, the acclaimed author of the novel Black and White and the bestselling memoir Slow Motion, is back with Devotion: a searching and timeless new memoir that examines the fundamental questions that wake women in the middle of the night, and grapples with the ways faith, prayer, and devotion affect everyday life. Devotion is sure to appeal to all those dealing with the trials and tribulations of what Carl Jung called “the afternoon of life.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061628351
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/08/2011
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 246
Sales rank: 276,526
Product dimensions: 7.76(w) x 5.30(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

Dani Shapiro is the author of the novels Black & White and Family History and the bestselling memoir Slow Motion. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Elle, Vogue, O, and other publications.

Hometown:

Bethlehem, Connecticut

Date of Birth:

April 10, 1962

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Education:

B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1987, M.F.A., 1989

What People are Saying About This

Jennifer Egan

“I was on the verge of tears more than once in the course of Dani Shapiro’s impeccably structured spiritual odyssey. But Devotion’s biggest triumph is its voice: funny and unpretentious, concrete and earthy-appealing to skeptics and believers alike. This is a gripping, beautiful story.”

Amy Bloom

“This is a beautiful, wry and moving story about one intelligent woman’s journey into her own life, to the corners where intelligence doesn’t always help.”

Jeannette Walls

“Dani Shapiro takes readers on an intense journey in search of meaning and peace. Her story of hope is eloquently told and unflinchingly honest.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

“I was immensely moved by this elegant book, which reminded me all over again that all of us-at some point or another-must buck up our courage and face down the big spiritual questions of life, death, love, loss and surrender.”

Jesse Kornbluth

“The one book that anyone over, say, 35 needs to read right now.”

Anne Lamott

“Dani Shapiro’s novels and nonfiction are always rich in honesty and intelligence, about the psyche and lost hearts and families, about messes and shame and what calls us to transcend.”

Customer Reviews

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Devotion 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Florinda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There¿s something about entering parenthood that can prompt those who¿ve drifted away from the religion of their upbringing to consider a return to it. In my own story, the wish to make a religious framework part of our son¿s education led my first husband and me back to the Catholic Church around the time he started school.The decision wasn¿t quite as cut-and-dred for Dani Shapiro. Raised in an observant Orthodox Jewish family, she¿d left behind most of those practices in young adulthood, and the sudden loss of her father after a car accident when she was twenty-three was a further break with them...but a space grew where those traditions had been, and a yoga practice that was more physically than spiritually effective didn¿t fill it. As other losses followed - her mother, the pre-9/11 New York City she¿d made her home - and parenthood was threatened to be cut short by the rare seizure disorder that overtook her infant son, Shapiro became increasingly aware that she lacked a sense of faith in God, and increasingly focused on the questions that raised for her. Among those questions: was there a place for the Judaism she was raised with in her life, and that of her family, now?Devotion explores Shapiro¿s learning to live with, and within, the questions - exploring Torah study and mediation, finding a synagogue for her family in the Connecticut countryside far from the urban Jewish community in New York, attending yoga classes and Buddhist retreats. She comes to understand that her personal history will always make her ¿complicated with Judaism;¿ it will always be part of who she is, and will always color her worldview. This is a concept that makes sense to me, and appeals as a way of characterizing the continuing Catholic influence on my own perspective.This isn¿t a conventional faith memoir. It has a unifying theme, but it really doesn¿t have a strong narrative outline or linear structure, and there¿s no particular epiphany that provides a climax. The writing shifts back and forth across various timeframes and experiences over more than 80 brief chapters, sometimes reflective, sometimes philosophical, sometimes reporting and sometimes speculating...but, to me, never sounding anything other than authentic and honest. I related to Shapiro¿s questioning and did get a sense that she was finding a way to live comfortably with it; seeing that happen for someone else helps me feel a bit more comfortable living with my own.
Lilac_Lily01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Devotion" by Dani Shapiro is one of those books that draws you in and stays with you for a while after you finished it. It's about the author's search for spiritual meaning in her life, and it's something I could easily relate to. From the outside it looks like Shapiro has everything it takes to be completely happy: a loving family, a successful career, and a nice home. But instead she feels anxious and struggles with her religion. She starts on a very personal journey of finding spiritual enlightenment, and documents every step of the way in her memoir. In the beginning, I couldn't wait to get to the end of the book to see at what conclusions the author had arrived at. But I slowly realized this book isn't about giving all the answers. Rather it reminds the reader to focus on the present, and just staying with it, instead of fighting or fleeing from what is. Overall, I truly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it!
ccayne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Honest, touching memoir of a woman who has sustained loss and uncertainty and is looking for guidance in making sense of life. Her parents were in a terrible accident in which her father died and her mother was seriously injured. Her son was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease from which he recovered. She questions the Jewish faith in which she was raised and explores meditation and Buddhism. It's beautifully written and will appeal to anyone who is a seeker by nature.
suesbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was very disappointing. Neither the writing the author kept my interest. She was looking for spirituality, but not clear about how she looked or what she hoped for. She was very unhappy with her mother and did not try at all to understand her. This book did not offend me, but it waste my time.
thewanderingjew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From the first page, I believed that Dani Shapiro was presenting an honest appraisal of her search for herself and the meaning of her life. As she pretty much bares her soul and her secrets, she seems to be exposing her fears and weaknesses in an effort to face them in the light of day and better deal with them. She worries about things that haven¿t happened but devises all sorts of scenarios about what might happen and then spends her time trying to prevent them from happening or prepares for their eventuality. She is wasting a lot of time and effort on imaginary circumstances. It can be exhausting and draining. She is plagued with insecurity. Having suffered through a near tragedy and some loss in her life, she is more susceptible to fears about them recurring; however, I believe that having escaped and/or dealt with the suffering, one usually becomes more sensitive to, and appreciates far more, the meaning of life and its value. Life is seen through the lens of experience and there is an essential feeling of gratitude for the second chance that has been given. There is a feeling that there might be a greater power out there that is controlling events, someone else pulling the strings of the human puppets.Through various events in her life, she explains the anxiety she experiences, just from living everyday. She connects with the reader and as I began to think about my own life, I remembered how I reacted in similar circumstances. It was as if I was seeing parts of my life through the mirror of her eyes. The writing style is light but the message is deep, not trivial. At the end of the book, Dani Shapiro is still a somewhat quasi atheist, questioning her beliefs and viewing the world through the teachings of her religious background. She has taken a spiritual journey and, although not actually practicing her Judaism devoutly, she is instead following traditions and rituals. She explores her past, hoping for self discovery, looking inward, mostly through yoga meditation. She constantly engages in soul searching in an attempt to live in the moment and find inner peace. There are 102 flashbacks which reveal her attempts to analyze and work through her worries; she explores her relationship with her mother, her experiences regarding 9/11, her attendance at AA meetings, her son¿s illness, her love for her father, and several other momentous occasions in her life.Although at first, I wasn¿t sure I would like this book as much as I did, I came to really appreciate its message. It made me stop and think about moments in my life, memories that I have not come to terms with, and helped me to view them in another light, more openly and with less sorrow and anger. Her message, throughout the book, is "live safe, live happy, live strong, live with ease". Paraphrasing from a quote in her book, ¿don¿t live so far into the future that you lose the present¿. Enjoy the moment.
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LEARYKID More than 1 year ago
I stuck it out through the book only because I was interested in the impact her religious upbringing had on her daily life. There were some backflashes of her super religious Jewish father, her non-worshiping mother and her extended family dynamics. Her struggle to decide whether or not to expose her son to her family traditions were thought provoking. It was an ok read.
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