The Believer by Sarah Krasnostein
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.