I appreciate the title of this book very much. It says all about its contents.
It’s a book about Journey. Starla Rich was 50+ when writing this work and she had quite a life journey behind her.
The word Within indicates it’s about our internal world, not some travel guide. It talks about the things which are most basic and valuable for humans: emotions, memories and experiences.
I had the most problems with the My part of the title and the book. Starla doesn’t preach about generalities. It’s a book about her life, her journey and her experiences. It unfortunately may narrow the circle of readers, but it provides the level of insight into the human soul impossible otherwise.
And it’s all about Heart. Her transparency is beyond amazing. She opens the gate to her heart and shares what’s inside. She is not afraid to become vulnerable in order to encourage others in their life journey.
And in this era, such a reflective title is so rare! As an author myself, I know all too well the temptation to use tricks and slogans to enchain potential reader’s attention. Starla Rich is above that.
Why “My” may cause the problem…
Let’s go straight to minuses of the book, so we can delight in its positives later on.
This book is deeply personal. So deeply in fact, that it may thwart a reader from wading across the ‘personal’ part to the ‘universal’ one.
This is the first book of this author and it shows here and there. The paragraphs are much, much too verbose for my taste. Many times I was desperately looking for the break in the stream of words to catch my breath and just ponder what I’ve just read. In fact that was my biggest issue with this book.
Maybe it was just the impression provoked by the length of individual paragraphs, but in my opinion, Starla rambles too much. She could cut some corners here and there and go to the point sooner.
Those two issues make it relatively hard for me to through the beginning of the book. And it is the most important part! If the reader will be willing to wade through the introduction, he can endure some wandering about and linger for what’s later on. But if not…
I went through this initial blockade only because I knew something about the author in advance, before reading the book. If I hadn’t, I don’t think I would have found the motivation to do so. For me, the “My” part was the reason to keep reading. For someone who doesn’t know the author, it is more likely to stir “And who cares?” reaction and giving up on the lecture
And that would be a shame, because this book is good. No, it’s not good, it’s wonderful. No, it’s not; the proper word is “Great.”
English is not my first language, but even I can appreciate the skillful craftsmanship Starla has over words and sentences. Her language is artful, subtle and beautiful. Reading this book is like listening to soothing music. She doesn’t just tell the story, she paints it with her words, so vividly that I couldn’t help seeing it happening through my own eyes.
She narrates a few times abject events from her past in the way that you can feel her pain and simultaneously be far away from it in time and space.
She is an artist of the written word. Reading “Journey Within My Heart” is a joy in itself.
By the way, I fell in love with the South just imbibing its pieces through the author’s writing.
But it’s just the first, superficial layer of this book’s virtues. The other one is openness and transparency. Starla shares her personal story with total strangers with courage and divine lack of fear.
I’m a “self-analysis” fanatic. I spend at least 10 minutes every day writing down an analysis of my own self. But I’m amazed by the depth of Starla’s thoughts about seemingly trifling encounters or scenes from the movies. Mundane, daily situations for her are inspiration to ponder the greatest mysteries of life.
This personal approach separates the book’s message from resemblance to a stiff sermon. Many times I couldn’t help but nodding in agreement with her conclusions drawn from these personal tidbits.
And all I said about the book so far is just another layer. Because the core of “Journey Within My Heart” is wisdom. The further you go into the book, the greater enlightenment you experience.
I believe wisdom is transforming one’s own experience into meaningful lessons. The author experienced a lot in her life, both good and evil. She encountered it in others and in herself. That makes her so relatable to us all. However her ability to digest a meaning from these encounters is extraordinary.
She taught me about the realms of the Heart: relationships, self-love, self-pity, courage, self-examination and divine providence through her own example. She provoked me to search for similar lessons in my past, in my soul.
And in the end she fulfilled her mission. She encouraged me.