Book Review: Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink

     Hey everyone, how’s it going? Hope you’re all doing well.

    I know I typically reserve Wednesdays for snail mail posts but I have something a little different for you today although it is still related to snail mail so I’m not deviating too much from the norm! So, this is actually a first for me – I was sent a book to review!

     Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free in order to review it but all opinions are my own and unbiased.

     Having a disclaimer is also a first for me, strange! Well, with that out of the way, let me tell you about the book.

     So, the book is Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink by Mary Potter Kenyon and Mary Jedlicka Humston and was sent to me by one of the authors, Mary Potter Kenyon. As the title suggests, the book is about a friendship between two Marys that takes place through the medium of letter writing. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

“Mary and Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink” explores a thirty-year friendship between two women: one who had never learned to cultivate female friendships, and the other who had managed to gather and maintain a large group of friends throughout her adult life. The fact that thousands of handwritten letters between them linked these two together is just part of the intriguing story. Mary Potter Kenyon, author of “Refined by Fire,” “Coupon Crazy,” and “Chemo-Therapist,” and her co-writer Mary Jedlicka Humston share an unforgettable friendship that will inspire you to pick up your pen and begin writing “Dear . . . “

     It’s a short book, only about 200 pages, making it an easy and enjoyable read on a sunny day and the format of the book makes it easy to pick up, read a little and put it down again. Each chapter deals with a different subject such as parenting, health, anxiety etc. with each Mary exploring the topic in relation to their lives while a guest essay about letter writing or friendship separates each chapter. At the end of the book there is a discussion section featuring questions to go along with each chapter that can really get you thinking about the subjects covered and how you feel about certain things (which you could also use to spark some conversation between you and a pen pal). A resource list of books about friendship and writing letters is also provided at the end – always a good thing to have!

     While a friendship kept through letter writing is the basis of the book, I would say that throughout, there is much less focus on the act of letter writing itself and more on the friendship between two people where the dominant form of communication just happens to be letter writing. In that sense, if you were looking for a book about writing letters, this might not be what you’re looking for but if you wanted a book about the personal lives of two normal women and how important friendship is to them, this would be up your alley.

     Both Marys explore the ups and downs of their lives and the difficulties faced at various stages with particular attention spent on the topics of friendship, parenting and faith. While I lead a completely different life to both Marys and have many different beliefs (both authors are Christian mothers while I am an atheist who plans on never having children – unless cats count?), they wrote in such a way that for the most part, even if I disagreed with them, I could at least understand them and where they were coming from, making it a lot easier to read their story. I was particularly able to relate to both women when it came to the chapter about anxiety as it’s something I suffer from myself and both Marys are incredibly honest in their writing.

     Faith is a topic that appears throughout the book with a lot of mention of Bible study, prayer and Christian writer’s groups; there’s even a whole chapter about faith. I feel that might be where the book lost me. While I enjoyed and understood the discussions about friendship and reading about the lives of the two women was interesting, religious believe is a bit of an alien topic to me. I definitely think you’d be able to get more out of this book if you’re a religious person.

    Overall, I do think Mary & Me is a good and easy to read book though as its focus on parenting and faith might not be for everyone, I would be inclined to recommend it more towards someone religious who’s a mother and can relate more to the topics covered in the book. If you fit that category, I think you’d love this book!

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