Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go by Cheryl Krauter
Publisher: She Writes Press, (July 20, 2021)
Category: Memoir, Grief, Loss, Healing
Tour dates: August-September, 2021
Available in Print and ebook, 168 pages
Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go begins with the sudden death of Cheryl Krauter’s spouse. Five months later, in a stroke of irony and magic, her husband wins a long-desired guided fly-fishing trip in a raffle―and Cheryl decides to go in his place, fulfilling a promise to scatter his ashes by a trout stream.
Part I of this memoir is an account of the first year after Cheryl’s husband’s death, where she becomes an explorer in the infinite stream of grief and loss, a time traveler between the darkness of sorrow and the light of daily life.
Part II concludes with stories of the poignant and humorous adventures she had during the ensuing year. Tying it all together and woven throughout is Cheryl’s account of the creation of an altar assembled during the three-day ritual of Los Días de los Muertos.
Poetic and mythological, Odyssey of Ashes is a raw story of loss and the deep transformation that traveling through darkness and returning to light can bring.
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REVIEW by LAWonder10:
Odyssey of Ashes is a true account of one woman's journey with loss and grief.
The author reminisces about highlights in the life she shared with her husband, his sudden death, the winning of his longed for special fishing trip shortly after his decease, her "odyssey" in fulfilling her husband's wish, finding closure, then moving forward in life.
It is a poignant tale of occasional struggles in relationships, obsession with a hobby, and dreams interrupted.
I was impressed at the effort the author put forth into participating a passion she didn't share just to spend time with her husband. I was further impressed at the extent she went to in finding closure.
It is sad, the reason her husband and son's relationship suffered.
Death is often devastating in many ways. Each survivor must experience grief in his/her own way before having the ability to move forward in life.
This was a good book, yet I feel it lacked a smooth transition between situations and was a little weak in making the main point. However, it was interesting and somewhat informative.
I Feel the Cover Image nd Title depicted the story quite well.
I offer a Three and a Half Stars rating.
What Inspired Me to Write My Book
I found inspiration through the writing of Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go. When I began the book, I had a shadowy idea of a story that wanted to be told as it is based on the trauma I experienced when my husband died suddenly in the dark, early hours before dawn in 2016. Five months after his death, he won a raffle prize of a guided fly-fishing trip for two to the Madison River in Montana and I was generously given the opportunity to go in his place. The irony of this occurrence was the catalyst for the creation of the memoir but I didn’t have a sense of how it would become an entire book at the inception of the writing. I knew that my husband wanted his ashes scattered by a trout stream or river and that he had dreamed of fishing the Madison River so I believed his posthumous win to be a sad and powerful stroke of synchronicity. I felt compelled to write this story but I was still feeling the depth of my loss and a sense of timelessness that is a part of grieving. I felt lost even though I continued on with my day-to-day life in an odd state of suspended reality.
I wrote the book in scenes, carefully selecting the memories that were dramatic, poignant, and sometimes humorous, hoping to weave the fabric of my experience into a colorful tapestry that captured the odyssey of a journey through grief, loss, and into healing. A scaffolding outline was built to hold these scenes together but, of course, some of them couldn’t be written until I had traveled to Montana, carrying a small bag of my husband’s ashes in my carry-on luggage. Other scenes, like old photographs, were from the past and could be written ahead of what was to come. Still others came in unexpected moments like the scene where I am observing my elderly neighbor, herself a widow for many years, walking alone into her home on a dusky, fall evening, wondering if that would someday be me. There were times during the writing of the book that I became inconsolable in front of my computer and had to stop because I couldn’t see the keyboard or the screen through my tears.
In many ways, Odyssey of Ashes was my grief counselor, a silent witness to my sorrow, and a companion on the long, lonely nights when I was learning to live without my spouse, my friend, my lover. I didn’t realize while I was writing the book that it would inspire my own movement into the transformation of my grief. Because of my work as a psychotherapist, I believe in transformation that grows out of pain, darkness that opens into light, and the resilience of the human spirit to find its way. My journey through my own pain can be found on each page and in every word of the manuscript. I always write with the intention to inspire others and hope that each one of my books has aspects that the reader can take away and put into their lives. The wonderful question of “what inspired you to write this book” helped me to more fully realize what I gave myself by writing the memoir.
After the first draft and then into many rounds of editing and rewriting, I became anxious about releasing the memoir into the world. I was exposing the depths of my heart and soul in an intensely raw manuscript for others to see. Suddenly I felt panicky as if I was stuck in one of those anxiety dreams where I am naked and walking down the street trying to find shelter while throngs of people are staring at me in my heightened state of exposed vulnerability. But I stayed with my story, letting it inspire and move me beyond my fears and into a place where I felt that I really didn’t have anything to lose by showing what exists within me. And as an author who believes in the power of writing from a raw, authentic place, I have come to understand that this book has brought me to a new level in my work, one that I hope continues to inspire both myself and my readers. I am grateful to Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go for teaching and inspiring me to be the writer I truly want to be.
About Cheryl Krauter(c) Nan Phelps
CHERYL KRAUTER is a San Francisco bay area psychotherapist with more than forty years of experience in the field of depth psychology and human consciousness. A cancer survivor, she is the author of Surviving the Storm: A Workbook for Telling Your Cancer Story (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Psychosocial Care of Cancer Survivors: A Clinician’s Guide and Workbook for Providing Wholehearted Care (Oxford University Press, 2018). She lives with her personal assistant, a cat named Amie.
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This giveaway is for 2 print copies of Odyssey of Ashes
(ends on September 4, 2021 at 12 am, PST.)
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