I cried reading this book.
Not because it was incredibly profound and beautifully written, but because it met me at the perfect time. Shauna Niequist’s Cold Tangerines is a book about life and love and loss and God in all those things. Not in a nauseating cliche way, either. She doesn’t pretend to be a super Christian who doesn’t experience human emotions because she’s so much better than the rest of us mere mortals. She let’s us in on the deep, dark, dirty side of herself. The part that most of us are ashamed and unwilling to share.
I think that’s why I cried. It wasn’t because I was sad. It was because it resonated with the most fragile parts of my soul. The parts that are afraid to come out in daylight because they don’t want to be exposed. She tore her heart out and placed it in that book and it bled all over my hands as I read it. I cried because every time I turned the page I thought, Wow, I’m not the only one. Essentially, that’s how we all want to feel: like we’re not the only one. Not to mention, she made me fall deeper in love with Chicago.
There’s no need to try to explain the plot of this book. It doesn’t really have one. It’s more so a memoir/collection of short stories. Some sad, most humorous. The message is more important. The message is not a simple “everything happens for a reason”. It’s more like:
Listen, people have to grow. Be who you are. Be really honest about it. And in the meantime, while you’re being who you are, and since people need to grow, God is going to do a lot of stuff in your life to make that happen. You can’t change it. You can’t fix it. You can’t control it. It’s a roller coaster. Buckle up. You decide whether you’re gonna be the person screaming for dear life with clenched cheeks and eyes closed, or the wide eyed scoundrel with his/her hands in the air. Either way, you have to ride it till the end.
I already posted one of my favorite quotes from the book. But to wrap things up, I’ll leave you with one of her comedic ramblings on jealousy:
I am not unfamiliar with jealousy. But usually I can play the game and feel a little better. You know the game- you think of the thing you have that they don’t, to make yourself feel better. You tell yourself that even though he has boatloads of money, at least you have a loving family instead of being a sad, lonely, soulless Scrooge of a person, which makes you feel better about driving a ’92 Camry. Or you tell yourself that she may have a genuinely perfect body, like computer generated image, but unfortunately she’s got the personality of a dirty Kleenex, unlike your empathetic, kind self.