I feel that Nova Scotian author Janice Landry is one of those people you would like for a next-door neighbour: she comes across as a genuinely kind, understanding, upbeat person who likely takes care of their property. That’s just the impression she gives, as the reader of Silver Linings (Pottersfield Press) comes to know her as well as the seventeen people she interviews for her latest book, Silver Linings.
Generally speaking, Silver Linings deals with subjects such as loss of a loved one, PTSD (or PTSI as the book suggests it should be called; Post-Traumatic Stress Injury) and diseases such as Parkinson’s and so on. Many of the interviewees are former first-responders, as PTSI is most prevalent amongst that particular demographic. (Canadian paramedics have a suicide rate 5 times higher than the national average.) Ms. Landry also speaks to experts on mental health, particularly on the aspect of gratitude. Even during and after difficult experiences, gratitude can be found if one knows how and where to look for it. At the end of each interview, she asks: “What are you most grateful for?” The answers, while not particularly surprising, are insightful, even if one hasn’t experienced deep personal trauma. But If you or a loved one has, then this book is recommended, for it is inspirational, low-key in tone and encouraging. While the interviews are transcribed from audio, they are intimate in that Ms. Landry often speaks and interjects her thoughts, asking the questions we might ask if we had that person in our living rooms or on the telephone. It is all very, very well done.Ms. Landry informs us in the Prologue that the idea for Silver Linings came after her late mother fell shortly before her death:
Is it possible to be grateful for an accident? Well, not literally for the accident itself, but what has resulted from the accident. It can be possible to find gifts in the tough moments that life throws at us. There is usually something to be grateful for even in our most trying times. Sometimes when grief, loss, or illness is at its worst, it is hard to be grateful for anything. You will hear from one Canadian expert that is okay, too.
While I personally find this type of content not that appealing to read, as I have developed my own ways of dealing with issues over the years, I can certainly empathize with those Ms. Landry speaks to in Silver Linings, particularly first responders and those that may suffer from compassion fatigue (as I am wont to do in my line of work).
If I were to have any quibbles with Silver Linings it would be that it is strikingly obvious that the seventeen interviewees all appear to be white and of middle-class backgrounds. There are certainly no Indigenous people or any people of colour from what I can tell.* It would be interesting to hear how, for instance, a Mi’kmaw person finds gratitude through their belief system. Telling too is the lack of mainstream religious references by the interviewees. It would appear that people are not turning (or don’t want to turn) to their religious leaders/teachings at trying times. Hence, the growing field of science-based studies and experts in the fields of gratitude and PTG (post-traumatic growth) mental wellness. Just an observation.
Quibbles aside, this is a very well presented, insightful and encouraging book for oneself to read or to give to a grieving person. Well done, Ms. Landry! I am adding Silver Linings to “The Very Best!” Book Awards 2020 longlist in the Best Non-Fiction category.
Silver Linings: Stories of Gratitude, Resiliency, and Growth Through Adversity by Janice Landry
*Note to Ms. Landry: it was hard to tell from the black & white thumbnail images what skin tone some may have, please feel free to correct me!
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James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. The Miramichi Reader (TMR) —Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases— highlights noteworthy books and authors across Canada from coast to coast to coast (est. 2015). James works and resides in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.