Today: February 21, 2017

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Eat, Pray, Love has the potential to open the reader’s mind with regards to questions of faith, religion, and identity. The memories of Gilbert’s travels are transparent and crystal clear. As each page is turned it is easy to believe with closed eyes that you are present alongside her during this poignant journey to healing, growth, and an improved life through a relationship with God. The memoir begins in Italy with Gilbert’s wishful desire for a kiss by her attractive Italian Tandem Exchange Partner. Readers are then taken to a low point in the author’s life when she realizes that she is not happy in her life and that for her it is impossible to stay in that place – her marriage and in New York – both literally and figuratively. This thought grows into the reality that she would embark on a year long expedition to find her identity and spirituality in Italy, India, and Indonesia. Gilbert has an expectation of what she will learn as she delves into the culture of each country. She desires to learn about pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and balance in Indonesia. As she traipses through Italy, she is able to experience the tastes of Rome, Sicily, Florence, and other cities. Despite being a “flamingo” – an American fair, blonde-haired woman – she manages to learn Italian because of her dedication to the language, food, and culture. Her dedication to all three, especially to the language and the food can be likened to the commitment a junkie would have in securing his next fix. In between Italy and India the author flies back to the States to pack more appropriately for the next stops in her journey. While in India, Gilbert talks about meditation caves, yoga practice, celibacy, and a burgeoning commitment to God. Surprisingly she met many engaging characters from all over the world at the Ashram. While she learned more about devotion she was able to accept and acknowledge her God-given gifts and the time spent there enlarged her devotion to God through prayer and meditation. Finally, Gilbert lands in Indonesia where the Balinese know how to balance pleasure and devotion in equal measure. Gilbert is able to spend time with two healers – one an older medicine man who has lost his wife, the other a beautiful middle-aged single mother who has despite the culture, survived a painful divorce and adopted two young girls who are orphans. Through the time spent with each and a Brazilian businessman, Gilbert is able to learn even more about herself, her God, and about love. Eat, Pray, Love demonstrates how empowering change – internal and external – can be. Gilbert’s tone is affable and she doesn’t take herself too seriously which means that readers can imagine what growth is possible in their own lives. Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of a short story collection, Pilgrims, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 1999 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares-and a novel, Stern Men. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large for GQ. Her journalism has been published in Harper’s Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine, and her stories have appeared in Esquire, Story, and the Paris Review.