Book Review: Peace from Broken Pieces

May 7, 2011

To be a good fighter, you have to be stripped down to nothing. A fighter is trained to forget what they know and who they are outside of the ring. Once a fighter is stripped down, they can be built up by one voice: the trainer’s voice. And it is assumed that the trainer has the fighter’s best interest in mind.

peaceI’ll just start by being completely upfront. I love Iyanla Vanzant. I think she’s fantastic. When she was on The Oprah Winfrey Show that one year, she got me through my pregnancy and started me on the path to healing that I needed. I read In the Meantime, I picked up Faith in the Valley, and I even got her journaling book One Day My Soul Just Opened Up (which, to be honest, I never used). I love her and was so upset when she wasn’t back on Oprah–especially when Dr. Phil got his own show.

So that’s where I was when I read Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through. I learned about the book while watching her two interviews with Oprah (which I watched with great interest) (and I eagerly looked forward to that episode of Season 25 Behind the Scenes, let me tell you), and I had a great interest in hearing what she had to say about her daughter’s death, the dissolution of her marriage, and, of course, how she went from a superstar speaker with a million-dollar dream home to a woman renting a house with no health insurance. More importantly, though, I needed to know how she found peace through it all.

Throughout the book, I was struck by how great of a teacher Iyanla is. Even in the midst of reading about her devastation, I had so many a-ha moments about my own life. She talks a lot about family pathology and the way we repeat patterns of our forebears (this phenomenon is called a generational curse in Christian theology) even if we don’t know our elders’ stories. There’s a lot about familial patterns and how we try to resolve childhood traumas and repair broken relationships within ourselves. Everything she shares becomes a teachable moment.

The emphasis in the book is also all of the ways we are works in progress. Iyanla talks about how she thought she had dealt with all her stuff just because she recognized she had issues, but, at the same time, she really ignored or tamped down things because she wanted to believe she was better. She especially talks about it in regards to her husband and how she heard a voice telling her not to marry him, but she did it anyway because she loved him and finally felt worthy of his love since he said he wanted to marry her.

The most heartbreaking moments, of course, are those detailing her daughter’s death. Just gut wrenching to read. She finds her daughter’s journals and reads them all, which gives her much more insight into herself and their relationship. She tells the ways her daughter repeats her relationship patterns, and that’s when Iyanla recognizes how strong the ancestral pathology is. While I completely understand why she didn’t, I wish that she had allowed the reader more access to her daughter’s journals because I was fascinated to read how her daughter saw so many of the incidents Iyanla discusses in her book. But, like a friend of mine said, that’s a whole other book.

As a fan of Iyanla, I really enjoyed reading Peace from Broken Pieces. I think, even if you don’t have any particular interest in her life story, there’s still a lot to be gained from reading this account. She is a remarkable teacher.

POC Challenge: 9/15; Support Your Local Library: 16/30

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