So often memoirs can be maudlin or portray the author as an innocent victim of circumstances. This is not the case in A MONTH OF SUNDAYS. The author mixes tears and humor and is not afraid to show herself or others “warts and all”. Julie seems to come full circle in her spiritual journey with more questions than answers, but this true tale is both heartbreaking and uplifting.
Reviewed by Roberta Austin
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister
by Julie Mars
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: GreyCore Press (May 30, 2005)
When Julie Mars gets the call that her beloved sister Shirley has been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, she does not think twice about dropping everything in her life to take care of Shirley. Julie leaves New Mexico and travels to her sister’s home in upstate New York. This first journey is just the beginning of a spiritual journey as Julie spends seven months watching Shirley die and then many more months afterward on a lone pilgrimage to search for meaning and answers to tough questions.
The title of this compelling memoir refers to the author’s quest to visit a different church for thirty-one Sundays in a row when she returns home to Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the start of each chapter there is a photo of the exterior of a church and its name. Julie has used Shirley’s old camera to make it even more personal.
Each chapter not only includes Ms. Mars encounters with a different place of worship, but glimpses into her personal issues. Both Julie and Shirley fell away from their Catholic upbringing after callous and uncaring remarks by those in authority, who should have known better. As Shirley struggled with dying, she also struggled with deep spiritual issues. Julie had to wrestle with Shirley’s slow painful death at the same time their ninety-four year father faces inevitable decline. The father is not “going peacefully into that good night” and his feisty nature leads Julie to examine, in unflinching detail, past family dynamics, which have shaped her for better and worse.
So often memoirs can be maudlin or portray the author as an innocent victim of circumstances. This is not the case in A MONTH OF SUNDAYS. The author mixes tears and humor and is not afraid to show herself or others “warts and all”. Julie seems to come full circle in her spiritual journey with more questions than answers, but this true tale is both heartbreaking and uplifting. If nothing else, the reader will take away message that priorities should be examined and that there is hope and healing even after grief.
About the Reviewer: Roberta Austin was born in Roanoke , Virginia, and as an army child, she spent most of her young life traveling to Germany, Japan, Texas, Maryland and Georgia. With librarians and teachers in her background, she learned to read at 5 and has been an avid reader ever since. Currently residing in Atlanta GA, she works as a Library Assistant; a dream job for a book addict.