Monday, September 10, 2012


TODAY my book -- published and printed was delivered! And, the following review by Pat Maslowski was printed in the publisher's newsletter.

Tree Lines, A Memoir --- There are few books that I will reread in my life, but Mim Neal’s Tree Lines is one I will keep on the shelf near my bed so I can reread those passages that are poetry, philosophy, wisdom and prayer.
     There’s a reason memoir is so popular. With every new generation, many lose their connection to family, place, ritual, folklore and wisdom. Who are we? How shall we be? What is my purpose? What is my life’s meaning? These questions pulse despite the blare, hurry, distraction and commercialism in which we are enveloped, and memoir offers some helpful attempts at answers.
     I’ve read that culture is the air we breathe, and I agree. To experience another culture is to learn to breathe in different air. Mim Neal is an extraordinary woman who does just that. From a traditional middle class, Protestant background, she marries, has two children and is a stay at home mother. In her thirties the culture shifts, the air changes, and the author realizes her marriage is destructive, her husband controlling and emotionally abusive.
    Her divorce is the exit from the oxygen-rich conformity prevalent in American culture in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and even 70s. Suddenly she’s at high altitude; the air is thin, and there’s no turning back. Her struggles to support her family alone, her sense of duty and obligation, her aspirations as a writer and her understanding of who she is as a spiritual being are all related so candidly and vividly I had a sense I knew her as well as I know myself. Her memoir brings the reader into the immediacy of her personal life as well as her work life, which as Director of Media for Rotary International includes trips to Brazil, Guatemala, Japan, South Korea, Africa and Switzerland.
   Fully present and engaged, Mim Neal shows us what she experiences and seeks. We become seekers with her. What is our place on this planet? What do our relationships with people, earth, plants, animals and ancient wisdom mean? She is not afraid to experience other cultures, other places, but she is also aware of her self-doubt, guilt and feelings of inadequacy. She discovers a spiritual path that joins traditions from Buddhism, to Islam, to Christianity, to Native American belief systems. She participates in vision quests. She promotes an event that includes Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. She visits ancient, sacred sites such as Hiroshima and Nara in Japan and Table Mountain in South Africa. The air becomes rich with diversity instead of conformity.
   Her memoir is not just the narrative of a woman’s life; it is also the narrative of a human quest to understand our place on the planet, to find holiness. She offers the reader an examined life, a hard-won wisdom we need now—a new way to breathe.

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