Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace

Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace

3.0 2
by Beverly Donofrio
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A bestselling memoirist bravely tells the story of the night evil paid her a visit—and how prayer chased evil away

Beverly Donofrio had already lived two lives, first as a scrappy young mother on the streets of the East Village and later as the bestselling author of Riding in Cars with Boys. By the time she reached her fifties, she thought she

…  See more details below

Overview

A bestselling memoirist bravely tells the story of the night evil paid her a visit—and how prayer chased evil away

Beverly Donofrio had already lived two lives, first as a scrappy young mother on the streets of the East Village and later as the bestselling author of Riding in Cars with Boys. By the time she reached her fifties, she thought she had seen it all.

Now, even though she was living in a vibrant, picturesque Mexican town, where she practiced yoga, drank margaritas in her backyard, and took salsa lessons, she felt lost and was searching for monasteries to visit. The religious practice that had nourished her for several years had faded. She missed God. Then one night she woke to find a rapist holding a knife to her throat. So begins the memoir that charts Donofrio’s journey—a long and twisting road through denial, mourning, anger, vulnerability, and retreat at five very different monasteries.

Told through Donofrio’s brutally honest, often ribald, emotionally unsparing voice, Astonished is a tender and hopeful narrative of healing and learning to love life again.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In her third autobiographical work (after Looking for Mary) Donofrio wrestles spiritually with the concept of evil after being raped at knifepoint in her Mexico home. Having finally found her way as a writer midlife, become a pious Catholic, and settled in the old colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in a house she built herself, Donofrio was 55 and a new grandmother when she was attacked by the town’s serial rapist in her own bedroom one night in June. Her testimony and work with the police soon after helped bring the man to justice, but Donofrio was shaken in her Christian faith, angry at God for allowing such senseless evil, and plunged into a spiritual crisis involving an overwhelming sense of vulnerability and shame. Finding refuge in a monastery seemed the only way to feel truly safe, and the bulk of her thoughtfully circuitous narrative dwells on her six-month pilgrimage to various monasteries, among the Trappists at St. Benedict’s in Snowmass, Colo., the Carmelites at Nada Hermitage in Crestone, Colo., and at her midwife friend Estrella’sHoly Land retreat in the Missouri Ozarks, among other places. Donofrio searched for a deeper relationship to Jesus by immersing herself in prayer, meditation, and writings by the church fathers, saints, and mystics, which she lists in a last chapter; and she even contemplated becoming a nun. Yet the simple act of asking questions proved a salve, as she depicts in this insightful, candidly unfolding, soul-bearing journey to grace. Agent, Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Astonished by Beverly Donofrio:

“This is the story of a sabbatical, but not from teaching. After being raped in Mexico, Donofrio lives in retreat houses in the American West where she confronts the evil forces that file through the hole in her soul created by the rape. She cries, prays, watches birds and throttles her narcissism. Spiritually sore, she comes to understand St. Paul's words: ‘When I am weak, I am strong.' An ardent feminist, she forgives and undergoes a sea change in the desert. Written with mordant humor, searing honesty, and an eye for the mysteries of love, nature and monkish life.”
J. Michael Lennon, Salon.com (selected for Salon's Ultimate Book Guide for 2013)

“Reading Donofrio's memoir, Astonished, is, in itself, an astonishing experience. She grapples with her faith in ways and in words that startle, move, mesmerize, wrench, enliven, and thrill the reader. It is a narrative composed of brutal honesty, tenderness, and an aching love for God. I could not put it down.”
Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees

“A smart, funny memoir about a woman seeking answers to some very hard questions. . . . Donofrio's intelligent and down-to-earth delivery gives [Astonished] a meditative feel. For her,'bringing God into the picture makes me pay closer attention.' Her writing does the same thing for us. Her bravery helps. She holds nothing back.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“The brutally honest author of Riding in Cars with Boys reveals how a terrifying brush with a rapist sparked her spirituality and set her on a journey of recovery paved with prayer.”
O Magazine

"What's most compelling, besides Donofrio's simultaneously warm and tough-as-nails voice, is the openness of her heart toward good old-fashioned faith, and her willingness to accept God into her life, if she could only figure Him out. . . . The fact that she was able to take such ugliness and transform it into the beauty of this book is a stunning accomplishment."
The Daily Beast

"Donofrio's journey around the country and into her inner life is compelling material beautifully written. Perpetually humble, searching, honest and wry, Donofrio is a fine companion for a spiritual journey."
BookPage

"It is an unsparing but also hopeful account of evil and misery and suffering as well as joy and goodness and forgiveness. 'Don't run from the pain,' Donofrio writes. She doesn't. Instead, Astonished transcends it."
Booklist

"Best known for Riding in Cars with Boys (1990), her first memoir about her teenage pregnancy and single motherhood, the author was raised Catholic. ... Her story is one of reconciliation ... [and] the conclusion of her journey, following her torrent of questions for and about divine power, lies in her realization that her faith is unshakeable and her attack, ultimately, showed her the heart of God. Honest, engaging, and cathartic."
Kirkus Reviews

"As beautiful as it is authentic, Astonished is one of the most compelling, appealing, and instructive spiritual autobiographies I have read in many a year.
Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why

“An insightful, candidly unfolding, soul-bearing journey to grace.”
Publishers Weekly

“To me, Beverly Donofrio is part Abigail Thomas, part Anne Lamott, part Kathleen Norris, and 100 percent original. Terrifying and, at moments, terribly funny. Candid, compelling, and, above all else, wise. Here's Beverly Donofrio, the rebellious teenager and tough single mother from Riding in Cars with Boys, forty years later, still vulnerable, still resilient, tested and tempered by life, and finally forging her own peace. Astonished is a seeker's and writing woman's spiritual journey through doubt and despair, emerging in cowboy boots, green tights, and prayer.”
Sara Pritchard, author of Crackpots and Help Wanted: Female

"Anyone who can read Bev Donofrio's first paragraph and stop should be interdict for life from libraries and bookstores. She is one first-class human being and, to my mind, a down-and-dirty saint. I'm grateful for the privilege of being invited into her radiant soul."
William J. O'Malley, S.J., author of-The Fifth Week

"Expect lots from this memoir by Donofrio, as she's already made her mark in this genre: her best-selling-Riding in Cars with Boyswas translated into 16 languages and made into a film, while-Looking for Marywas a Discover Great New Writers pick. Here she writes about living in Mexico, where she studied yoga, drank margaritas, and began hungering for religious experience. One night she awoke with a rapist in her bedroom and a knife at her throat. In a book begun at the Nada Hermitage in Colorado, where she was a lay Carmelite for four years, Donofrio recounts facing down her subsequent anger and fearfulness and learning to embrace life, even as she spent time in five monasteries hoping to touch the face of God. With a five-city tour."
Library Journal

Library Journal
Donofrio has already made her mark with the best-selling Riding in Cars with Boys, translated into 16 languages and made into a film, and Discover pick Looking for Mary. Here she writes about overcoming fear and anger after awakening one night at her home in Mexico with a rapist holding a knife to her throat. Donofrio also recounts time later spent in five monasteries, hoping to touch the face of God. With a five-city tour.
Kirkus Reviews
Donofrio (Looking for Mary, 2000, etc.) recounts her survival from rape at age 55 and subsequent spiritual journey. Best known for Riding in Cars with Boys (1990), her first memoir about her teenage pregnancy and single motherhood, the author was raised Catholic. As an adult, following years without religious practice, Donofrio developed a deep love for and affinity with the Virgin Mary and returned to Catholicism. In 2006, while living peacefully as an expat in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Donofrio awoke to find herself held at knife point by the town's serial rapist. "I did not want to believe in a God that would let this happen," she writes at the book's beginning. After the man was caught weeks later, Donofrio remained unsettled, wrestling with feelings of having been violated and spiritual questions concerning good and evil. In search of stillness and safety, she planned to leave for six months to visit five places, most of which were monasteries. The bulk of the narrative follows this pilgrimage, which included stays with the Trappists at St. Benedict and the Carmelites at Nada Hermitage, both in Colorado, and at a friend's Missouri retreat center. Donofrio devoted her days to prayer and meditation, as well as the study of spiritual writings, which she lists in the narrative. Her story is one of reconciliation; she felt herself grow closer to Jesus while shedding some of her decades-old protective holding patterns and bitterness toward men. She considered, then decided against, becoming a nun. The conclusion of her journey, following her torrent of questions for and about divine power, lies in her realization that her faith is unshakeable and her attack, ultimately, showed her the heart of God. Honest, engaging and cathartic.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670025756
Publisher:
Viking Adult
Publication date:
03/07/2013
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.86(w) x 8.34(h) x 0.86(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for Astonished by Beverly Donofrio:
 
“This is the story of a sabbatical, but not from teaching. After being raped in Mexico, Donofrio lives in retreat houses in the American West where she confronts the evil forces that file through the hole in her soul created by the rape. She cries, prays, watches birds and throttles her narcissism. Spiritually sore, she comes to understand St. Paul’s words: ‘When I am weak, I am strong.’ An ardent feminist, she forgives and undergoes a sea change in the desert. Written with mordant humor, searing honesty, and an eye for the mysteries of love, nature and monkish life.”
J. Michael Lennon, Salon.com (selected for Salon’s Ultimate Book Guide for 2013)

“Reading Donofrio’s memoir, Astonished, is, in itself, an astonishing experience. She grapples with her faith in ways and in words that startle, move, mesmerize, wrench, enliven, and thrill the reader. It is a narrative composed of brutal honesty, tenderness, and an aching love for God. I could not put it down.”
Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees

“A smart, funny memoir about a woman seeking answers to some very hard questions. . . . Donofrio’s intelligent and down-to-earth delivery gives [Astonished] a meditative feel. For her,'bringing God into the picture makes me pay closer attention.’ Her writing does the same thing for us. Her bravery helps. She holds nothing back.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“The brutally honest author of Riding in Cars with Boys reveals how a terrifying brush with a rapist sparked her spirituality and set her on a journey of recovery paved with prayer.”
O Magazine
 
"What’s most compelling, besides Donofrio’s simultaneously warm and tough-as-nails voice, is the openness of her heart toward good old-fashioned faith, and her willingness to accept God into her life, if she could only figure Him out. . . . The fact that she was able to take such ugliness and transform it into the beauty of this book is a stunning accomplishment."
The Daily Beast

"Donofrio’s journey around the country and into her inner life is compelling material beautifully written. Perpetually humble, searching, honest and wry, Donofrio is a fine companion for a spiritual journey."
BookPage
 
"It is an unsparing but also hopeful account of evil and misery and suffering as well as joy and goodness and forgiveness. 'Don’t run from the pain,' Donofrio writes. She doesn’t. Instead, Astonished transcends it."
Booklist

"Best known for Riding in Cars with Boys (1990), her first memoir about her teenage pregnancy and single motherhood, the author was raised Catholic. ... Her story is one of reconciliation ... [and] the conclusion of her journey, following her torrent of questions for and about divine power, lies in her realization that her faith is unshakeable and her attack, ultimately, showed her the heart of God. Honest, engaging, and cathartic."
Kirkus Reviews

"As beautiful as it is authentic, Astonished is one of the most compelling, appealing, and instructive spiritual autobiographies I have read in many a year.
Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why
 
“An insightful, candidly unfolding, soul-bearing journey to grace.”
Publishers Weekly

“To me, Beverly Donofrio is part Abigail Thomas, part Anne Lamott, part Kathleen Norris, and 100 percent original. Terrifying and, at moments, terribly funny. Candid, compelling, and, above all else, wise. Here's Beverly Donofrio, the rebellious teenager and tough single mother from Riding in Cars with Boys, forty years later, still vulnerable, still resilient, tested and tempered by life, and finally forging her own peace. Astonished is a seeker's and writing woman's spiritual journey through doubt and despair, emerging in cowboy boots, green tights, and prayer.”
Sara Pritchard, author of Crackpots and Help Wanted: Female

"Anyone who can read Bev Donofrio's first paragraph and stop should be interdict for life from libraries and bookstores. She is one first-class human being and, to my mind, a down-and-dirty saint. I'm grateful for the privilege of being invited into her radiant soul."
William J. O'Malley, S.J., author of The Fifth Week

"Expect lots from this memoir by Donofrio, as she’s already made her mark in this genre: her best-selling Riding in Cars with Boys was translated into 16 languages and made into a film, while Looking for Mary was a Discover Great New Writers pick. Here she writes about living in Mexico, where she studied yoga, drank margaritas, and began hungering for religious experience. One night she awoke with a rapist in her bedroom and a knife at her throat. In a book begun at the Nada Hermitage in Colorado, where she was a lay Carmelite for four years, Donofrio recounts facing down her subsequent anger and fearfulness and learning to embrace life, even as she spent time in five monasteries hoping to touch the face of God. With a five-city tour."
Library Journal

Read More

Meet the Author

Beverly Donofrio’s first memoir, Riding in Cars with Boys, has been translated into sixteen languages and made into a popular motion picture. Her second memoir, Looking for Mary, began as a documentary on NPR and was chosen as a Discover Book at Barnes & Noble. She lived for four years as a lay Carmelite at Nada Hermitage in Colorado, where she began this book.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >