Phosphorescence to Julia Baird is the light within — the things that are important to us, that keep us going when times are challenging, that make us glow. She uses many metaphors from nature — the light released by natural substances or organisms, such as the light of fireflies, phytoplankton (which can look like “red tides”), glow worms, flashlight fish –even human beings who have been found through highly sensitive imaging to glow at levels that drop and climb throughout the day. In this memoir the author enumerates the things that helped her survive a struggle with cancer and several surgeries,
Unfortunately, for me, this book did not come across as a cohesive whole. It read more like a series of loosely connected essays. In fact, when I got to the acknowledgements, I found that some of the chapters, or parts of the chapters, had previously been published as columns in The New York Times. This resulted in a finished product that was choppy and hard to follow. For example, bits and pieces of Julia’s cancer journey are revealed, but in no particular order. Some chapters had more to do with her opinions about a variety of issues (feminism, climate change, rights of indigenous people and the LBTQ community) than the purported topic; two were “letters” to her children.
That being said, there is some worthwhile information about how to keep our lives properly focused: For example:
- Being attentive to nature, noticing with awe the mystery of creation that is all around us
- The value of silence
- Appreciating the temporary
- Accepting imperfection
- Being comfortable with yourself
VERDICT: 2 STARS. I disagreed with many of the author’s views, and didn’t get much out of this one.
The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255. It will not be available for purchase until July 2021 from Random House.