My Book Review: All The Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth
“All The Pretty Things” is the memoir of Edie Wadsworth, who grew up in an extremely dysfunctional extended family in the Appalachians of eastern Tennessee. Generational poverty, hunger, chronic alcoholism, sexual abuse, and a life full of broken people and relationships came together to stack the odds against Edie. In spite of all this, by God’s grace and her hard work she managed to succeed and achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. Her narrative is touching and personal, and while the details are different her story hits close to home for me in many ways. I found myself laughing and crying numerous times. Much of Edie’s story centers around her relationship with Jim, her alcoholic father. Jim was often absent, usually drunk when present, and unable to support Edie and the rest of his family. He was charming and funny and likable, but unable to be responsible. Edie longed for his love and approval but came to realize he couldn’t relate to her desire for a different type of life.
“The things I was good at were things he didn’t value, and it was futile to explain to him what any of it meant.” (p. 145)
Edie’s love didn’t change for her father, and it didn’t keep her from the realization that many of us come to when we land squarely in a place where we can finally forgive – he did the best he could with what he had.
“But he did love me, in the only ways he knew how. And in the end, I hoped I’d find that what he could give would be enough.” (p. 145)
Edie’s journey as a follower of Christ is also central to her story. In the midst of a life constantly in shambles or on fire, she struggled to find the security she desired.
“Getting saved and baptized over and over again, I began to wonder whose sins I was trying to atone for and if I would ever find the peace and contentment I so desperately wanted. Still, however, confused I felt, I clung to faith because it was the only thing in my life that made sense, the thing I could count on in a world that was always changing.” (p. 127)
Edie’s sometimes tenuous connection to her faith in God would eventually lead her to find the Father that would never leave her or let her go hungry. Edie’s description of taking Communion after she left her medical practice and her family went back to church is a riveting lesson in God’s grace, closing with this thought:
“It is where we glimpse wholeness. It is not the altar where we surrender all; It is the altar where Christ has surrendered all – where He has given everything in preparation for this meal.” (p. 262)
This book is for everyone who feels lost, lonely, abandoned or forgotten. It is for everyone who has ever sat among the ashes of the life that have burned down around them, wondering how to find God in the rubble. It is for all of us. Thank you, Edie.
[FCC Compliance: Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of this review]