In the Mirror: A memoir of shattered secrets — author Ann Best’s story of faith, resilience, and inner strength

I don’t remember how Ann Best’s name first came across my computer screen. Perhaps it was while I was searching for memoir writers on Twitter. Or maybe she found me first and commented on my blog. In this digital world, names representing individuals pass across my screen. Some float across, never to return and others stick.

Ann Best’s writing sticks.

I visited Ann’s blog and read through her page Brain Injury: A Journey. With my experience having a sister with severe developmental disability, I suppose you could say I immediately connected with Ann’s writing and my heart went out to her.

I bought her memoir In the Mirror: A Memoir of Shattered Secrets, which is largely about her relationship with her first husband Larry who, after four children with her and eleven years of marriage, announced that he had been having relationships with other men. Ann responds to her husband’s infidelity the way she responds to the rest of the challenges she faces in her life, with faith, resilience, and inner strength. Ann and her husband try to hold the marriage together for eight years, but ultimately are not successful. In the memoir Ann also writes about the fateful accident that left one of her daughters with a severe pelvic injury and the other with a devastating brain injury.

In the Mirror is an honest and frank story about the additional challenges Ann faced in life: romantic temptation, financial hardships, alcoholism of a second husband, and difficulties with raising four children. In fact, Ann faces so many challenges in her life, through no fault of her own, that if  In the Mirror were fictional, it might not be believable. Oftentimes truth is stranger than fiction.

Through it all Ann maintains a strong focus on her faith. Good friends, her religious community, and at times, minor miracles see her through.

Ann writes courageously with a clean, clear style that keeps the reader engaged with it’s simple honesty and moving dialog. In addition to her captivating life story, Ann surprised and educated me about the strength of the Mormon community and the tenets of the faith which include the powerful role of the Bishops in individuals’ lives.

In the Mirror deserves a place on the shelves of women’s literature. It is the story of a woman in the 1960s and 1970s, long before the world embraced the empowerment of women in new roles, who got knocked down, picked herself back up, followed her dream, and scraped her way through to peace and contentment.

I read it in two days.

I am grateful that Ann Best’s name floated across my computer screen. I feel now like I not only know her, but am so very proud of her.

Ann Carbine Best was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. She now lives in the Shenandoah Valley, her favorite place, where she is full-time caregiver of her disabled daughter. Ann lives not far from her and Larry’s other three children and seven grandchildren. Over the years, she has published and won awards for stories, essays, and poetry, and is currently plotting two other memoirs. “I’ve lived long enough,” she says, “to write memoir.” (http://widopublishing.com/ourtitles.aspx)

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35 thoughts on “In the Mirror: A memoir of shattered secrets — author Ann Best’s story of faith, resilience, and inner strength”

  1. I applaud her ability to get through this . Requires love and stamina. My values are quite different, however. Could never abandon the children but could never stay in relationship in which I had to struggle to pretend that I am happy or fulfilled. Some challenges cannot be avoided but why burn ourselves out if they can be avoided? If she has attained her satisfactory fulfillment in her choosen path then we can be joyful in her life’s journey.

    1. If you read the entire story in context, you would see how much strength she has. It’s amazing what she had to deal with. And we can’t forget that she was a woman responding in the 1960s and 1970s. Her options were somewhat limited, I suspect.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation. I’m going to take a closer look at it. Another really good memoir on dealing with a devastating disability is Abigail Thomas’ “A Three Dog Life”. Abigail and her husband had added a third dog to the household when it ran out into traffic. Her husband ran out after it without thinking and was hit by a car. He lived, but the brain damage was pretty extensive and she eventually had to institutionalize him.

    I really enjoy your blog. It is a nice combination of your daily life (that darned garden ivy!), your Dad’s decline, and the past with Annie. It’s a good mix of happy, sad, and a good life.

    http://www.amazon.com/Three-Dog-Life-memoir/dp/B0027VT0EM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1311817281&sr=8-3

    Nancy
    http://www.dogear6.com

    1. Hi, Nancy. This is one of my favorite memoirs! I’ve read it so many times. When I was struggling with my memoir, I kept re-reading it, reveling in the understated style. But I couldn’t make mine quite that understated, or that short. And I don’t think I came up with as many gems of wisdom as she did. But in the end I did feel that I had written a very good book. I’m very pleased with the response, and always happy to meet new people.

      1. Thanks for your gracious response. Like many books and movies, I doubt Abigail started out with the intention of words of wisdom. They happened along the way. I’m sure I’ll find the same when I read your book as well. I will get things out of it that you didn’t even realize were there.

        The great thing is that none of us write the same way. That’s why even though we repeat the same stories as others before us, they always sound new. Same song, new verse.

    2. Thanks for the book recommendation, Nancy. When I feel emotionally strong enough, I may try to tackle it. Right now I am afraid it is going to strike too close to home.

      @Ann. I’ve got your back.

    1. That first sentence is definitely true, Carol Ann. But then, I wonder about the one carrying the heavier burden, and I think I wouldn’t want to be the worst case scenario!

      There are indeed so many in this life who struggle SO much, but often with such great patience and strength. I look up to them!

    2. I think you’re right. But sometimes, that thought doesn’t help make our load any lighter. We just have to be as strong as we can and accept the help when it comes, in whatever form it’s in.

  3. Christine: I’m sorry I’m slow getting over here. This week I was hit by Life, though not as bad as in my memoir, LOL, and I haven’t been blogging much this past week.

    Thus, I just saw your comment on my reviews page that said you had posted this wonderful review. It is indeed interesting how we cross paths with people–and their books. (A comment above about A Three Dog Life. I read this many times when I was trying to write my own memoir; I love Abigail’s understated style and have wanted to emulate it.)

    I am now going to put up a post directing my followers to this post. And thank you again, Christine. (I would be very pleased if you would post a review for me on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My fellow blogger friend Denise Covey of L’Aussie keeps prompting me to ask this.)

    1. I probably should have given you a little advanced warning. But I’m kind of winging it here on my blog. I wanted to do the review while the book was still fresh in my mind. (Which isn’t very long anymore, and getting shorter all the time.)

      Thanks for the link to the blog. I will try to put the review or some version of it up as you ask. (I’ll have to figure it out. That’s good for my brain.)

  4. Ann’s courage and faith inspire me to be both a better person and a better writer. I love how she has the strength to write down her struggles and share them with the world – no easy task there!

    Christine, this was a wonderful review of a wonderful memoir. Thank you for posting it.

    1. You’re right about her being an inspiration. When I read on her blog that she published her first book at 71, I lost all my excuses at the age of 54.

  5. Christine, you said it perfectly when you wrote Ann’s book “deserves a place on the shelves of women’s literature.”

    P.S. Please know I tried to officially follow you, but for some reason I wasn’t able to do so. Wishing you a great day!

    1. I’m always aware of the feminist perspective of what I read. I guess I got sensitized in the 1970s when I started my career in a predominantly male field, and then re-sensitized in the 2000s when I earned my English degree with a concentration in Women’s Studies. Near and dear to my heart.

      Sorry about the trouble you had to follow. I don’t know what’s wrong. You’re the first to comment. You can find me on twitter, if you’re there. My name is CMSmith57.

    2. Michelle: You can see how easy and quick it is to reply on WordPress, right beneath each comment. I just never even tried to reply on Blogger, but of course I did visit each commenter’s blog.

  6. Hi Christine .. good to meet you .. and Ann has proved an inspiration to many people – let alone authors. There are others who have a harder life .. many around the world, and locally – many who could help themselves .. yet others who things happen to .. or things happen to their near and dear – for some reason some people have incredible resilience and ability to cope and deal with grace with their challenges ..

    Christine your review seems to put Ann’s book into context: such a worthwhile book to read on many levels .. my copy is on its way … and I look forward to reading it ..

    Have lovely Sundays and next weeks … with thoughts .. Hilary

  7. I noticed Ann’s writing when I came across an interview with her on another blog. After I read and excerpt I was impressed and have continued to be impressed by her clarity and honesty in words.

    Great review. Thanks.

    Jai

    1. Yes, Julie. I think this is why I like memoir, ones that are well written and dig deep. For me, it’s crucial to know that others have problems, too, some worse than mine, and still they endure and prevail.

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