[A] gentle but radiant memoir.” —New York Times Book Review
“Radiant essays about how joy and loss often coexist. . . To nudge readers toward building their own 'transcendent narratives,' Pipher braids in insights from her 25 years as a therapist, citing how acknowledging 'evidence of growth' in one's story, regardless of how big or small, can open up pathways toward healing. Those struggling to overcome darkness will find a guiding light in this incandescent work.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“For psychologist Pipher, the light found in nature, caring relationships, work, and books has always been the key to happiness. In this beautifully written memoir, her memories of childhood in Nebraska are vivid and poignant. . . . This lovely book teaches gentle lessons on gratitude and celebrating life.” —Booklist, starred review
“Her relationship to the planet is primal and exuberant... [A] luminous and unflinching memoir.” —Psychotherapy Network
“A life story but also a homage to light... A beautifully written, quiet, contemplative memoir that many will enjoy.” —Library Journal
“A writer discovers herself in a new light... [Pipher] reflects on aging, loneliness, and happiness in a serene, gently told memoir. . . . Sensitive meditations from a 'solar-powered' writer.” —Kirkus Reviews
“With a nod to her Buddhist practice and, amid climate change, to the passing away of the world as we've known it, Mary Pipher describes experiencing light of all kinds-literal and metaphorical. In A Life in Light: Meditations on Impermanence, Pipher tells a story of sorrow and loss in which she has nevertheless experienced much joy, love, and worldly success.” —Lion's Roar
“In her incandescent new book, Mary Pipher shines a light on what really matters, and in doing so, she reflects our lives back at us with exquisite awareness. I was deeply moved by every page, laughing, crying, always reflecting on her words long after. She has given us all essential lessons on how to balance despair with a sense of wonder and inspires us to lead more light-filled lives.” —Lori Gottlieb, New York Times-bestselling author of MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE
“Mary Pipher's work, always illuminating, is especially so in this dazzling memoir with its focus on light and transcendence. Beautifully written, heartfelt and poignant, the book draws universal lessons from the rich details of Mary's life. Her luminous spirit shines on every page.” —Jean Kilbourne, Senior Scholar, Wellesley Centers for Women, author, cultural theorist, filmmaker
“Mary Pipher transforms her own turning points into life lessons that illuminate purpose, intention, and joy for all her readers.” —Jane Isay, author of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
“In this memoir in essays, Mary Pipher reflects on her life with profound insight, unflinching honesty, and deep compassion for others-and herself-that will help all of us learn to live a life in light.” —Gretchen Rubin, New York Times-bestselling author of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT
“Mary Pipher is a beacon, a light-bearer, a bodhisattva. Her life stories illuminate ways to be calm, connected, resilient, and joyful, regardless of circumstances. A Life in Light offers hope and direction while nurturing the heart and soul, mind and spirit.” —Lama Surya Das, bestselling author of AWAKENING THE BUDDHA WITHIN
“William Blake says good is only found 'in the minute particulars,' and Mary Pipher here honors the particular beauty of memory, heartbreaking and heartwarming, with a tender presence and a lifelong opening to the light.” —Jack Kornfield, author of A PATH WITH HEART
“Women of all ages will find much to reflect on, and respond to, in this collection of lives lived and lost.” —NPR, Best Books of the Year on WOMEN ROWING NORTH
“[Pipher's] 'quest for joy and happiness' is sincere, as is her commitment to helping other women achieve theirs. Some readers will treasure the book. All readers will admire her unadorned but wise summation that answered prayers are 'a surcease of worry.'” —Washington Post on WOMEN ROWING NORTH
“Both practical and inspiring.” —New York Times on WOMEN ROWING NORTH
“Thoughtful, wise, and profoundly transformative ... This is truly a one-of-a-kind book, one that I've been waiting for.” —Julia Alvarez on WOMEN ROWING NORTH
This memoir by clinical psychologist Pipher (Reviving Ophelia) is a life story but also a homage to light. Her first memory, before she could even talk, is of light dancing in the leaves as she lay on a blanket under a tree. Gifted with a prodigious memory, she taught herself the skill of storing moments of joy, of light — a skill that has proved useful her lifetime. Pipher's childhood was tough, with a physician mother who was often emotionally and physically absent (a working mother in the 1950s was unusual enough, but a woman doctor was even rarer) and a father given to bouts of drinking with a chip on his shoulder about his wife's success. Pipher spent many hours alone as a child, and these memories are the book's most compelling. Chapters are brief, resembling short stories, and each ends with a memory of light—be it dappled winter light through the trees, a stunning sunset, or evening lamplight signaling the end of a day. VERDICT A beautifully written, quiet, contemplative memoir that many will enjoy.—Jane Keenan
A writer discovers herself in a new light.
Psychologist Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and Women Rowing North, reflects on aging, loneliness, and happiness in a serene, gently told memoir. Since childhood, the author has been drawn to light—“my intoxicant of choice,” she writes—which has lifted her out of fear and depression. Her childhood was troubled by her father’s unpredictable anger and her mother’s inability to offer the close nurturing Pipher yearned for. Others did, however: her grandmother, “one of the first people,” Pipher writes, “who did the hard work of loving me into existence”; and a kind woman who taught her ceramics. “There were two kinds of light in that studio—the shafts coming through the western windows in late afternoons and the love beaming from my teacher’s heart,” she writes. Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, Pipher’s world opened up when she attended the University of Kansas during the rebellious 1960s. The author recounts the trajectory of her life after graduating from Berkeley in 1969, becoming pregnant, and, when her son was a toddler, beginning a doctoral program in clinical psychology, which led to careers as a therapist and writer. Writing, she says, has afforded her “the light of living life twice, once in real time and once in reflective time.” Now long married, with middle-aged children and grandchildren off to college, Pipher has “found it difficult to accept a cycle of life in which children grow up and leave their parents, and in which we parents become more and more peripheral.” Loneliness has been intensified by the pandemic. “If the first part of my life was about building attachments,” writes the author, “the last two years have been about learning to detach. I am making an effort to find the love and warmth I need in my own heart.” Even during the enforced isolation of lockdown, she continues to find solace in the light.
Sensitive meditations from a “solar-powered” writer.