The first sentence of MAKING PIECE begins, "I killed my husband. I asked for a divorce, and seven hours before he was to sign the divorce papers, he died."
What a way to begin a memoir! Although such was certainly not the case (he died from a ruptured aorta), it was how Beth viewed her husband's death. Their marriage had been filled with continual adjustments, moves and long absences due to Marcus being frequently transferred. He had a high-powered job that consumed most of his time and energy, and Beth struggled for years with being second place in his life. In sheer frustration, she suggested a divorce, which she didn't really want at all. She just wanted to wake Marcus up to the fact that she needed him to put her first and pay attention to her. Although she loved him deeply, eventually the couple realized that their marriage was too much of a struggle and they sadly agreed to go their separate ways. Just hours before Marcus was to sign the divorce papers, he died. Beth blamed herself for causing him so much stress.
"Though there is plenty of sorrow mentioned here, the book is filled with hope, travel, friendship, second chances, the roads taken, and healing."
MAKING PIECE covers the 19 months following Marcus' death. Though there is plenty of sorrow mentioned here, the book is filled with hope, travel, friendship, second chances, the roads taken, and healing. At first, Beth succumbs to horrible bouts of grief. As if the loss of Marcus isn't enough, she needlessly suffers from guilt. When she joins a grief support group, she is startled to learn that some of its members are still grieving a loss after two years.
Always an energetic, just-do-it kind of person, Beth is impatient with herself. She wants to put the grieving behind her and be freed from her all-consuming, gut-wrenching sadness. But grief has its own timetable, and the path out of it has absolutely no road signs. Beth knows she has to keep busy and stay occupied. She turns her loves of travel and baking pie into her own personal journey of healing, which has its share of zigzags and wobbles that would not show up on any GPS.
Getting back on the open road, visiting old friends and family, making new friends, retracing some old paths, and finding new ones fills her with purpose and brings her comfort. Her new journey is adventure-filled, and all that she does involves pie in one way or another: tasting pie, talking pie, thinking pie. She does everything from giving classes in pie baking, to having a pie party for elementary school children, to judging pies at the Iowa State Fair. To celebrate National Pie Day on January 23rd, she assembles a small group of friends and together they bake 50 pies, which they give away free, slice by slice, on the streets of Los Angeles. She even makes a pilot for a documentary and a possible TV series about pie. The call of the open road and the Pie Quest keeps her occupied as she slowly emerges from her mantle of sorrow and forges her new, pie-filled path.
The human spirit is a remarkable thing, and people are much more resilient than they realize. Beth tells her story quite frankly, and the reader at times winces at both her honesty and her pain. But that same individual quietly cheers her on and applauds her pluck and willingness to forge ahead. Beth now lives in an historic landmark, the American Gothic House (yes, the one with the stone-faced rural couple, the pitchfork, and the unusual window made famous in Grant Woods' painting) in rural Eldon, Iowa, just a few miles from where she was born. She runs the Pitchfork Pie Stand, where she sells her pies by the slice to tourists in the summertime. Thousands of travelers wander off the beaten path every year just to visit that famous house, now made even more famous as the home of The American Pie Lady.
Reviewed by Carole Turner on May 11, 2012