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Family life is complicated. Something we all know. And then add in-laws and divorces and medical issues and cross-country communications and the relationships only become deeper and thicker. Think of the myriad of television shows based to family drama: Downton Abbey, The Brady Bunch, Roseanne, The Jeffersons, Sons of Anarchy… as well as every single soap opera ever written.

On TV they are entertaining. Until those difficult relationships become real. And then it is painful. Here are books by several WriteLife authors who have been there and through it. Each with their own complicated stories on family life and relationships. They bravely share their hardships, their strife and their coping skills in hopes that by sharing their stories, they will inspire others.

Read on. And always know that you’re not alone when the days are hard.

blueprintNot a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter  – Author Nina Norstrom lost her child to a disease, but that wasn’t the only toxic relationship she endured. In this book, she explores the effects that her relationships with grief, pain, trauma, and forgiveness have had on her life.

This tale exposes a mother’s struggle to escape her world of toxicity, her journey out of the clutches of diseased relationships, and the shoe prints the experiences have left on her family’s history. This story in its raw form projects a remarkable voice to the heroic fight, courage, and bravery gained when striking back to wipe out toxic relationships. Its message reveals that life brings many challenges and that each challenge provides lessons to be learned.

This book is not intended to be a blueprint for dealing with diseased relationships. It’s about the shoe prints: those symbols of life’s journey that are left by our experiences. Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter is an insightful and inspiring personal story of one family’s journey through toxic relationships.

lettersLetters from Madelyn: Chronicles of a Caregiver by Elaine K. Sanchez – Madelyn Kubin is a 70-year-old Kansas farm wife. She appears to be fragile because of her thinning white hair, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, congestive heart failure, and severe hearing loss. But when her husband Quentin suffers a debilitating stroke, she is forced to summon all of her physical, emotional, and spiritual strengths in order to care for him at home.

Madelyn manages her isolation, loneliness, and stress by going to her computer, disengaging her emotional monitor, and writing letters to her daughter Elaine.

Madelyn’s story of faith, courage, and love is told through her unflinching honest and surprisingly funny letters written in real time over the course of six-and-a-half years. Although she prays every day that she will be a willing channel for God’s love and compassion, there are plenty of days she feels like telling God to go find himself another servant. Madelyn writes unabashedly about her anger, guilt, depression, and grief. When Quentin displays dementia-related inappropriate sexual behavior, Madelyn eventually learns how to handle it with grace and humor. She shows how it is possible, even in the very worst end-of-life situations, to experience mental and spiritual growth.

life, little brown dogLife, A Little Brown Dog & Shite Like That by Michael Riddell – The view from his daughter’s couch was nothing short of humbling. The couch was his bed, his shortcomings, his failure. At the age of forty-five, Michael Riddell found himself bereft of career, marriage, money, and wondering why. He had always done as expected: growing up in middle Australia, he married his college sweetheart, joined the family business, and chased his career with everything he had. Surrendering and sacrificing his home life, every step he took was in the name of success.

But now, wallowing in a depression full of remorse, self-pity, and guilt, a chance visit to Melinda’s Out There shop starts Michael on the road to redemption—his soul’s path to renewal.

Michael Riddell suffered more than a mid-life crisis. Call it a complete life revision.

*** All books by BQB and WriteLife Publishing are available on Amazon, B&N or can be ordered by your favorite local bookstore. ***