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He Loves Me, He Loves Me NOT: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After
By Trish Ryan
Faith Words-Hachette Book Group USA
305 Pages
www.faithwords.com
trishryanonline.com
 
The cover artwork is very compelling. A chunky, warty, green-eyed frog with a gleaming crown imprinted with a luscious lipstick red kiss, in theory, a sight no female fairytale fan should every have to see, because it is their kiss that should transform the amphibian into a charming prince. Yet there it sits, kissed, and unchanged. If the book's cover was true to its content, the image would've repeated at least thirty times, because the quest to find that prince drove Trish Ryan's life to her mid-thirties. In He Loves Me, He Loves Me NOT author Trish Ryan takes the reader's hand, like a good friend, and walks once more the many steps that took her from a church-going childhood through a twenty-five year petal-plucking quest for Mr. Right that yielded surprising results. 
 
The far-flung journey takes the reader from boy-crazy high school through earning two degrees at "enlightened" institutions of higher learning to the "success" of big-city singleness to accomplishment in several spiritual disciplines to a glamorous--and dangerous--marriage to life off the grid under an assumed name. The warts in this warm, interior narrative, like the creature on the cover are on full view. Her chatty, engaging writing style propels the story through all her frustrations, blind turns, dead ends, and shame. 

Finally camped in Cambridge, Massachusetts, her astrology, feng shui, positive thinking and self-help guru study leading her to endlessly repeat the same mistakes, Ryan finds a ray of light through a TV evangelist and some Nicole Nordeman songs. It is enough to inspire her to find a place where she could watch some Christians in action. Readers who are Christians will probably see what's coming, but Ms. Ryan doesn't leap to easy happy endings. 
 
The greatest value of this autobiography lies in its ability to following the thinking of a young adult from "anything but Jesus and my parents' religion," to "anything THROUGH Jesus, including my parents' religion," The book is half over, and her regular visiting of The Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Greater Boston six months along before she is faced with the central issue of her search: "By far, the toughest thing I found was the idea that we human beings aren't inherently good." More months pass before she is ready to "just do Jesus for a while," and fully "opt in," but the results still are not a beeline to the altar in a white gown. 
 
This book is written for people who enjoy reading honest, transparent accounts of other's lives, but wouldn't be caught dead at a church that conducted altar-calls or whose members are generally also members of the Republican party. For anyone who was surprised that despite the dominant AND rising signs of their date being a perfect match, they just went to dinner with a creepy nut job, or who every overlooked the personal life of their favorite inspirational speaker, or just spent more in the New Age bookstore than they did that week for groceries, Trish Ryan has been there, done that. If she's earned a fair listen, stick around for the ending.  
 
Linda LaFianza
 
12/28/07
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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