The Believer

Sarah Krasnostein

The Believer
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The Believer

Sarah Krasnostein

From award-winning author Sarah Krasnostein comes an exploration of the power of belief.

What do we believe?
Who do we believe?
Why do we believe?

Sarah Krasnostein spent the last four years in Australia and the US talking to some extraordinary people-people holding fast to belief, even as it rubs against the grain of more accepted realities. Some of them believe in things most people don’t. Ghosts. UFOs. Heaven and the Devil. The literal creation of the universe in six days. Some of them believe in things most people would like to. Dying with autonomy. Facing transgressions with an open heart.

In this intensely personal and gorgeously written new book Krasnostein, the bestselling, multi-award-winning author of The Trauma Cleaner, talks with her trademark compassion and empathy to these believers-and finds out what happens when their beliefs crash into her own.    

Review

How do you get up each morning and face the day when you’re serving a 35-year life sentence for murder? How does your belief system stand up to this kind of scrutiny? Sarah Krasnostein asks this question of one of the ‘believers’ she interviews for her new book, and the logic this woman shares is surprising. Her logic goes like this: someone who is serving, say, two to three years, is serving the exact same sentence as she is. Because on any particular day, in any particular month, in that particular prison, they are both serving the same 24 hours. It worked for her. Our personal belief systems are the things that help us approach life’s slings and arrows, but where do they come from, these things we tell ourselves?

Sarah Krasnostein, who blew us all away with her fantastic book The Trauma Cleaner brings her inquisitive nature and empathetic way with people to her new book The Believer. Krasnostein interviews a range of people about their beliefs – ghost hunters, UFO researchers, a death doula, Mennonite missionaries and Creationists (complete with life-sized Noah’s Ark) – and these interviews had me confronting my own belief systems and sympathies. I was surprised to discover that maybe I’m more of a UFO believer than I would readily admit. I certainly found myself feeling deeply connected with the death doula and her approach to death. Whereas, although I was brought up a Catholic, I found the Creationists and missionaries constantly overstepping boundaries. It’s not only me who questions myself when listening to these believers – Krasnostein also confronts the stories she’s told herself about her own upbringing and family. In doing so, she finds a more solid sense of self.

This is a hard-to-define book because it swings wildly from group to group, but that’s also the beauty of it. By seeking such disparate subjects, Krasnostein has woven the threads of their stories, and their very different belief systems, into a tapestry that is rich with life, love and stories. I expect this will be running off the shelves, and deservedly so.


Gabrielle Williams works as a bookseller at Readings Malvern and is the Grants Officer for the Readings Foundation. She is also the author of books for young adults.

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