Here if You Need Me: A True Story

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When the oldest of Kate Braestrup's four children was ten years old, her husband, a Maine state trooper, was killed in a car accident. Stunned and grieving, she decided to pursue her husband's dream of becoming a Unitarian minister, and eventually began working with the Maine Game Warden Service, which conducts the state's search and rescue operations when people go missing in the wilderness.

Whether she is with parents whose 6-year-old daughter has wandered into the woods, or wardens as they search for a ...

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When the oldest of Kate Braestrup's four children was ten years old, her husband, a Maine state trooper, was killed in a car accident. Stunned and grieving, she decided to pursue her husband's dream of becoming a Unitarian minister, and eventually began working with the Maine Game Warden Service, which conducts the state's search and rescue operations when people go missing in the wilderness.

Whether she is with parents whose 6-year-old daughter has wandered into the woods, or wardens as they search for a snowmobile rider gone under ice, or a man whose sister left an infant seat and a suicide note in her car by the side of the road, Braestrup provides solace, comfort, and spiritual guidance when it's needed most. And she comes to discover that giving comfort is both a high calling and a precious gift.

In her account of her own life and the events of her unusual job, sometimes joyful, sometimes heartbreaking, Braestrup is warm, unsentimental ("No one is immune to the Plucky Widow story!" she acknowledges), and generous. HERE IF YOU NEED ME is a funny, frank, and deeply moving story of faith and hope.

Winner of the 2007 Discover Award, Nonfiction

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Kate Braestrup was living an enviably happy life as a wife and mother, when one morning her beloved husband was killed in a traffic accident. Fighting her grief, she decided to follow his dream -- and became a chaplain to the game warden service in their Maine community.

Game wardens, it turns out, are a special breed, and they need to be. They're just as likely to be called to the scene of a drunk driver, a suicide, or a murder as they are to a search, sometimes successful, for a child missing in the woods. And the bonds these preternaturally decent, if gently impious, officers forge with Braestrup presage the quick yet deep connections she must make to help grieving family members face a sudden, devastating loss -- one she knows well.

What's most remarkable about Here if You Need Me is that the comfort and solace Braestrup strives to impart to those she encounters is also conferred upon her readers. Her narrative is insightful, funny, and heartfelt. She has faith, certainly, and a belief that true grace lies in the facility for gratitude. In fact, her memoir does everything a good memoir should: It makes you smile and cry and feel truly grateful that Braestrup decided to share her experiences -- both joyous and painful -- for the betterment of those who would find it. (Fall 2007 Selection)
Jane Ciabattari
Kate Braestrup's Here if You Need Me can be read as a superbly crafted memoir of love, loss, grief, hope and the complex subtleties of faith. Or it can be read as the journey of a strong-minded, warmhearted woman through tragedy to grace…The meat of the book is Braestrup's description of her work as chaplain to the game wardens who conduct search-and-rescue missions for the state of Maine. And this element of the memoir alone is enough to make it fascinating, as she describes traveling with the wardens in search of murder victims, suicides, straying children and lost hikers. She accompanies the wardens to give comfort to the loved ones of those who are missing, to attend to the remains of those found dead and to minister to the wardens themselves…In Here if You Need Me, she allows us to stand with her while she ministers to those who are lucky enough to have the remarkable, steady, peaceful and wise Kate Braestrup to comfort them.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Braestrup's narration about her work as a chaplain with Maine's fish and game wardens is filled with the same comfort she offers those she ministers to. Her friendly, easygoing northeastern-accented voice is instantly soothing whether she is talking about the happy outcome of a search-and-rescue mission or her husband's tragic death, which spurred her on the road to her new job. Her reading has an often prayerful cadence, though she goes easy on Bible quotation and her discussions of theological issues are so wise and well-thought-out that even the nonreligious won't be put off. Mixed with cute stories about raising her four kids, she offers keenly observed anecdotes about what she's seen on the job, accompanying wardens as they pick up fishermen without permits or search for kids lost in the woods. "My job is so cool," Braestrup repeats often, and her enthusiasm comes through clearly in her lively narration. Whether listeners are in need of a reassuring voice, Braestrup's brief memoir embraces in a most welcome, heartwarming way. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 23). (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Braestrup understands that women aren't always allowed the luxury of solitude during the grieving process. After her husband, Drew, a Maine state trooper, was killed in a car accident, she was left to explain the loss to their four children while trying to maintain her own equilibrium. Amazed by the outpouring of kindness-which included brownies from a neighbor with whom she had only a nodding acquaintance and enough casseroles to fill the family freezer-Braestrup decides that God can be found where there is love. Drew had intended to become a Unitarian Universalist minister when the time came for him to retire, continuing to be of service to his brothers and sisters in arms. In the midst of the many changes in her life, Braestrup chose to attend divinity school with the idea of completing Drew's dream. Here If You Need Meis the story of how she makes her husband's dream her own and eventually becomes the chaplain for Maine's Wildlife and Game Service. Braestrup's strength is evident throughout the memoir, which is by turns funny, tender, and frightening, yet always reinforced by the undercurrent of great love. Here If You Need Meis recommended for public libraries.
—Pam Kingsbury

Kirkus Reviews
The life-and-death experiences of the first female chaplain in the Maine Warden Service. Novelist and journalist Braestrup (Onion, 1990) became a Unitarian Universalist minister after her husband was killed in a car accident. He had planned to join the ministry after he retired from the Maine State Police, and she decided to honor his memory by achieving his goal and devoting herself to law-enforcement-related service. Her stories of search-and-rescue operations in the Maine woods make it clear that she quickly became very good at helping others. When disaster struck, she traveled with the wardens, clad in the same uniform but with a plastic clerical collar attached, sharing their jokes, their cold and discomfort and their bad meals. Though they gently taunted her with such nicknames as "Holy Mother" and "Your Holiness," the wardens seemed to enjoy having Braestrup along and to value her presence. It freed them up to do their own jobs when she reached out to provide on-the-spot comfort to the parents of a lost child, the wife of a man who disappeared while ice fishing, as well as other frightened, stressed-out and grief-stricken people. Interspersed among accounts of violent death and dismemberment in the wilderness are sweeter, sadder essays: detailed recollections of preparing her husband's body for cremation; confessions of her paranoia about their four children's safety; and surprisingly unorthodox thoughts on heaven and hell, miracles, prayer and Jesus. Braestrup's occasionally self-mocking prose conveys a warmth and humor that lighten some heartbreaking, even gruesome scenes. Her characters and story lines seem custom-made for a high-quality television series. A heartening bookabout applied theology by someone practicing her faith in a rough-and-tumble world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316042956
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 7/2/2008
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Braestrup
Kate Braestrup is one of the first chaplains ever appointed to the Maine Warden Service. She is the author of a novel, Onion, and has written for Mademoiselle, Ms., City Paper, Hope, and Law and Order. She in lives in Maine with her husband, Simon van der Ven, and their six children.


Kate Braestrup was raised in Washington, D.C., and met her husband-to-be, James Andrew ("Drew") Griffith, when they both were students. They married in 1985 and moved to Maine when Drew was hired as a state trooper. While raising a family, Braestrup found time to do some writing, and in 1990 she published Onion, a first novel whose title derives from a nickname for their son Owen. Drew was planning to retire from police work and begin training for the Unitarian ministry when tragedy struck. En route to work one morning in 1996, he died in a car accident, leaving Braestrup a widow and single mother of four.

It was in the course of working through her grief that Braestrup found her true calling. Inspired by Drew's dream of becoming a Unitarian minister, she enrolled in Bangor Theological Seminary, was ordained in 2004, and joined the Maine Game Warden Service as a law enforcement chaplain. In this capacity, she responds to dozens of wilderness emergencies, from lost hikers and accident victims to suicides and the occasional murder, offering comfort and counsel to people in need. She recounted her remarkable odyssey in Here if You Need Me, a memoir filled with insightful observations on grief and loss, life and death, God and nature. Published in 2007, the book was a National Book Award finalist and received the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Nonfiction.

Braestrup has since happily remarried and now lives in Maine with her blended family. In between her ministerial duties, she contributes freelance articles to various publications.

Good To Know

  • Braestrup comes by her writing ability honestly. Her father, Peter Braestrup, was a noted war correspondent, writer, and journalist; founded The Wilson Quarterly; and served as Senior Editor and Director of Communications for the Library of Congress.
  • Braestrup's grandfather, Carl Bjorn Braestrup, worked on the Manhattan Project and co-invented a cobalt-therapy machine used for cancer treatment.
  • In our interview, Braestrup confessed: "I knit too much. I knit my Christmas presents, I knit leg warmers for all the children in my daughter's graduating class; I knit hats for all the editorial staff at Little Brown, I knit all the insulation in my house and am thinking of knitting a cozy for the car. My children are convinced that, if the house caught fire, I would save my knitting basket before I'd save them. (Does my knitting basket have its own perfectly good legs? I ask them.)"
  • Read More Show Less
      1. Hometown:
        Lincolnville, Maine
      1. Date of Birth:
        June 5, 1962
      2. Place of Birth:
        Washington, D.C.
      1. Education:
        Parsons School of Design, New School for Social Research 1979-81; Georgetown University 1983-1986; Bangor Theological

    Read an Excerpt

    Here If You Need Me

    By Kate Braestrup

    Little, Brown and Company

    Copyright © 2007 Kate Braestrup
    All right reserved.

    ISBN: 978-0-316-06630-3

    Chapter One

    A-six-year-old girl has wandered off from a family picnic near Masquinongy Pond, and she remains missing after a long day of waiting. The Maine Warden Service has mounted a search. There are dozens of people combing the woods near the picnic grounds. Some are local guys, volunteers from the community, but most of them are game wardens in green uniforms. Handlers from the warden service K-9 unit have brought dogs trained to find people, and dogs-those braced in the bows of boats drifting over the surface of the pond's marshy edge-trained to alert to the signature scent of a cadaver.

    The parents may or may not know about the cadaver dogs. They may or may not realize that when Chief Warden Pilot Charlie Later's plane buzzes overhead, he is scanning the brown bed of the pond for a small, pale human shape beneath the water.

    The parents do know this much: they love their child, and their child wanders in an inhospitable environment. They know the dark is coming on. They have been told that the Maine Warden Service chaplain has been called. What else could this be about but death?

    Around three in the afternoon, as my kids are trooping into the kitchen, dumping their backpacks in the mudroom, describing their school days, the telephonerings.

    "Your Holiness!" Lieutenant Trisdale roars. "We've got a situation up here by Masquinongy Pond we could use your help with."

    So by four, I am waiting by Chickawaukee Lake. Lieutenant Trisdale has sent a seaplane to fetch me. The lake is a ten-minute drive from my house, so I had time to eat a bowlful of supper's chicken stew and to swallow a Dramamine. I have heard that Charlie Later takes a dim view of wardens who puke in his airplane, and I don't want to test his tolerance.

    My car is parked in the little lot adjoining what passes for a beach, a mud bank that the city of Rockland improves in summertime with sand and a lifeguard. If this were summer, there would be children paddling in the shallows, canoes and kayaks on the water, and-increasingly-"personal watercraft," or jet skis, zooming around.

    But it is late October. The lake, abandoned save for a small flock of migrating mallards, is a placid gray mirror for the autumn afternoon. The sky boasts an archipelago of clouds so perfect in their imitation of islands that in the lee of the largest one, I can make out an inlet where a boat might find secure anchorage.

    I blow on my hands and tuck them into the scratchy woolen armpits of my uniform jacket. I've forgotten my gloves.

    People hear warden service and assume I am a prison chaplain. They picture me at the Supermax, counseling rapists and accompanying the Dead Man Walking to the electric chair. "Maine doesn't have the death penalty," I explain, and in any case, I work with game wardens, not prison wardens. Game wardens are law enforcement officers who work under the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Finding a lost child in the woods is among the many useful things these folks know how to do.

    How old a child? "A little girl," the lieutenant had said. Unavoidably, the image of my youngest daughter, age eight, comes to me. Her name is Anne, but her nickname is Woolie, with manifold familial variations (Woolie-Bully, Wooglet, Woo), and her cheek was warm and soft against my mouth when I kissed her good-bye.

    I dial my house to hear my children's voices. There are four altogether. Zachary is the eldest, at fourteen, and the rest follow in reasonably tidy, two-year intervals: Peter is twelve, Ellie is ten, Woolie is eight. "I know. You would think we'd planned them," their father would say, deadpan, when others expressed surprise (or was it dismay?) at the monotonous regularity with which he and I had reproduced.

    Woolie answers the telephone with a complaint prepared: Peter has gone off with the electric pencil sharpener. He won't give it back, and he called Woolie a bastard. Such language is insulting and morally wrong. In addition, it's inaccurate, and I wonder whether this should be an aggravating factor in my adjudication.

    "All right, Woogie-Piggie, I'll talk to him.

    "Peter, share the pencil sharpener," I tell him when he comes on the line. "And no cursing."

    "Okay," says Peter cheerfully. I can hear Woolie shrieking insults in the background. "Peace, Mom-Dude."

    It's early in the search. There's hope-real hope, not the faint hope that families cling to as days drag on.

    By now I know not to bother anticipating or planning for these calls. Hope and grief make a habit of presenting themselves in novel ways every time, and what is required in the way of a tender and appropriate response changes every time as well. It does an anxious family no good at all to have the chaplain arrive worn out with worry or projecting her own parental feelings onto a loss that does not belong to her.

    "Incidents can be rated on a scale of one to ten," a Denver, Colorado, police detective once told me. "Sometime during your career, you might get one or two incidents worth a ten. A bad murder, maybe a young victim, or you shoot somebody, or maybe go through the death of a friend and fellow officer. Those are tens. Most incidents are going to be way down on the scale, like maybe a two or a three. But you know what? I think it's all those little twos, threes, and fours that add up over time. I think those are the ones that get you in the end."

    By my lights, a one is when they find the lost person alive. Ones are good. A ten is-well, a ten is a dead warden, I suppose. Still, line-of-duty deaths are rare, if not quite rare enough. (The Maine Warden Service has the highest number of line-of-duty deaths of any agency in the state, a total of fourteen in the 125 years of the service's existence.)

    Where is the Masquinongy Pond search going to fall on that Colorado detective's scale of one to ten? If the child is dead, it's going to be up there around seven or eight for all the wardens as well as for me.


    My children are all alive and well, if not well behaved. I can count on a solid little hit of adrenaline to clear my head when I arrive on scene. So I kick idly at the gravel, take some deep breaths, blow on my hands, wonder whether Peter and Woolie's issues merit intervention by a shrink, fantasize idly about sailing to the islands in the sky.

    Those ducks had better get a wiggle on; winter is definitely on its way. There are ice crystals forming around the woody stems of the cattails. Turtles, their metabolisms slowed to geologic speed, have hunkered down in the mud for six months of cold coma. It won't be long before the surface of the lake freezes into a solid pane of ice, and anyone who wants to walk on water can. By January it will be thick enough to drive a truck onto, in theory at least. (Every few years, the dive team is called out to retrieve the body of a driver whose estimate of the ice's thickness proved tragically inaccurate.) When the ice is that thick, I'll be willing to let my children skate, maybe.

    Right now, my four children are sitting at the kitchen table, eating the cookies they were supposed to save for after supper, doubtless still arguing over the pencil sharpener or, if they've finished with that, arguing over which video they will watch tonight if Mom is still away and unable to enforce the "no videos on school nights" rule.

    "It would be nice if this little girl turns out to be alive," I suggest out loud.

    Barely audible at first, above the adenoidal agreement of the ducks, a faint buzz grows steadily louder. The warden service seaplane suddenly pops up above the high blueberry barrens at the far end of the lake. Its appearance breaks the island illusion; the clouds are clouds again. The plane gives a friendly wing-waggle and swings toward the water. It is aimed at the wrong shore, but I know by now not to jump and wave. The pilot has to land the plane nose into the wind. When the pontoons have made contact, flinging up twin plumes of white spray and carving sleigh tracks in the lake's silvery surface, Charlie will turn the plane around, and it will grumble gently to my shore.

    Once I'm installed in the passenger seat, Charlie drives the plane hard into the wind, the pontoons skid off the water, and we ascend over the peak of Ragged Mountain.

    "The lieutenant is going to meet us at Masquinongy Pond," Charlie says. "I guess it's not looking so good."

    I nod, looking carefully out the window at distant objects to forestall nausea. Penobscot Bay lies to our right, gleaming blackish blue around the shreds of land that form Islesboro, Northaven, Vinalhaven, Isle au Haut, and myriad little islands. I can pick out details: Owl's Head Light, the break-water in Rockland Harbor, the square hull of the ferry backing out of the slip at Lincolnville Beach. Old mountains, smoothed by glaciers and time, roll off to the north and west. Charlie turns westward and flies behind the sun.

    Charlie's hands rest lightly on the plane's steering wheel. I have an identical yoke in front of my seat that tilts in tandem with his as Charlie makes small adjustments to the variable air. Charlie's father was a warden service pilot too. Charlie grew up flying all over the state, and his relationship with an airplane seems at least as natural as my relationship with my feet.

    And so, though I am prone to motion sickness of all varieties, I do like flying with Charlie. I like to look at Maine from this new angle and from the sky rediscover its familiar features-seacoast, church spires, winding roads, huge tracts of forest, silver lakes, trailer parks, rolling meadows. The tree-lined edges of the pastures below us are accented with a startling yellow, as if a giant artist used his thumb to smudge the vivid dust of a pastel landscape. It takes me a little time to realize that the dusty smudge is where the fallen yellow leaves of the maples have drifted.

    "It's harder when it's a child," Charlie is saying, and I remember again the warmth of my daughter's cheek.

    The parents of the missing girl are standing, stage lit, within a cone of lamplight at the far end of the Masquinongy Pond Recreation Area parking lot. Insects whirl drunkenly above their heads, and among them I note the disconcerting, flitting motion of little brown myotis bats taking their evening meal.

    Perhaps thirty yards away, a modified RV belonging to the Salvation Army casts its own circle of light and supports its own rave of light-drugged insects, its own dance of bats. Through the open back door of the vehicle, I can see Brian Clark, a plump, walleyed veteran of many search scenes, washing pots. He will have spent a long afternoon cheerfully dishing up coffee, doughnuts, and Dinty Moore beef stew to search crews as they came in from the woods. Most of the volunteer searchers have reluctantly gone home for now. In the darkness, they can do no more than spread their scent, contaminating the area that the K-9s will continue searching through the night.

    "I'm Reverend Braestrup," I announce. "I'm the chaplain for the Maine Warden Service."

    "Ralph Moore," the child's father says. "This is my wife Marian. We're not churchgoers." The woman smiles apologetically as if I might have been offended by her husband's abrupt tone.

    "I'm not a church minister." I shrug and smile. His face does not relinquish its skepticism, but Mr. Moore tugs once on my proffered hand, like a man testing the strength of a knot.

    "Actually, I should probably tell you: we're atheists."


    "No offense."

    "I'm not offended," I say. "What a long, hard day you two have had."

    "Yes," he says.

    "I'm so sorry this has happened to you."

    Mr. Moore looks away, toward the edge growth that fringes the parking lot. "I am too."

    Mrs. Moore stands still, but her eyes scan constantly for signs from the surrounding darkness, her arms wrapped tightly across her chest. It's work to wait this way, aching physical labor.

    "It's miserable to wait," I observe, and she nods, still scanning, her mouth taut.

    Beyond the parking lot, the edge growth gives way to mixed deciduous woodland that rolls on for miles, interrupted only by an occasional swamp or swiftly flowing stream. It's been nine hours since the family dog returned and Alison did not. The Moores are tourists on vacation from a large Massachusetts city, but even if they were locals, the forest and the nearby bog and water would seem increasingly menacing as the hours wore on past mealtime, past bedtime. The people with uniforms, guns, and dogs had arrived in their emergency vehicles, blue lights flashing, as well as airplanes and boats, verifying the seriousness of what is, the awful plausibility of what might be.

    "Look, Reverend," Mr. Moore says, gesturing into the darkness. "I know all these guys have to keep looking. I can tell they are putting on a brave face for Marian here. But you can tell me the truth."

    Unbeliever though he may be, Mr. Moore is not asking the lady in the clerical collar for an objective assessment of a practical situation. He wants the God's honest truth. He wants me to tell him, with all the weight and authority my presence conveys, that his daughter is not dead.

    "Do you think she's dead?" I asked Lieutenant Trisdale after Charlie Later landed me safely on Masquinongy Pond. We were driving to the search scene in his truck, bouncing over the old roads, the lieutenant's paperwork, coffee cups, and collection of cell phones leaping about my knees. Fritz Trisdale has nearly three decades of experience behind his assessment, whatever he says, I will believe.

    Fritz scrubbed thoughtfully at the five o'clock shadow on his jaw. "I'll tell you what, your Reverendship," he said slowly. "I think she's still okay, to be honest with you. It's not like the kid was retarded or suicidal or something. She's just good and lost. Those woods have been cut over so many times that there's plenty of scrub and low growth to keep her hidden from us. Hell, you'd practically have to step on someone to find 'em in there. She's probably scared of the voices she hears, if she hears 'em at all. I think she's alive. Ronnie Dunham's bringing his dog Grace up this evening, and Grace'll have a fresh nose." Fritz stopped and gave it another thought but came to the same conclusion. "Yeah," he said. "I think we're going to find her."

    "Listen," the child's father is saying to me. "I'm an engineer. I work with statistics. You don't have to bullshit me."

    His wife is holding onto my hand, tightly, and her hand is cold. She turns her eyes to me as her husband continues: "I know that the longer this search goes on, the greater the chances are that my little girl is dead." Mrs. Moore flinches sharply at the word, and grips my hand even more firmly. Later my knuckles will ache, and I'll find the marks of her fingernails in my palm.

    "I have been on many searches with the wardens," I answer him. "These guys are good at what they do. They have a lot of experience between them. And I've been with them on searches where they really don't think they are going to find somebody alive."

    I pause and both parents lean closer, as if my voice might suddenly soften beyond the reach of their ears, but I speak boldly. "If the wardens have told you that in their professional opinion they think they will find your daughter alive, I believe we're going to do just that."

    Mr. Moore's knees visibly wobble. Mrs. Moore gives forth with a weak exclamation, and her hand softens in mine.

    Oh, please, Jesus, let this be true. Let the little girl be alive.

    If it isn't true, then one of the searchers will find the body. It is a small body to begin with, no more than fifty-five pounds according to the report, and it will have dwindled in death. There will be no vital signs, no spring of skin or tapping pulse beneath the warden's gentle fingers at wrist or throat, no warmth. The clothing will correspond to the description each searcher carries: khaki pants, light blue jacket, blue sweatshirt with a picture of Elmo on the front, gym socks, and Teva sandals.


    Excerpted from Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup Copyright © 2007 by Kate Braestrup. Excerpted by permission.
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted October 4, 2008

      Very Mixed feelings about this book.

      I think the author is a wonderful woman, who was thrust into a horrible tragedy with small children and strived to make her life, the life of her children and that of her late husband's really matter. That's the part I really liked. The part I have difficulty with is that I really feel that the reason she became a minister was basicly to finish something that her husband started. I found some parts of the book, although an honest description of her beliefs and feelings, to be disturbing on another level. It made me wonder how many ministers are there just to tell you what you want to hear, and not what is a true belief for them.

      3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 6, 2010

      Not My Favorite

      I'm sure this author is a very nice person. I could feel that she was as she read through her book (I listen to audio books), but by the third c.d. I had enough--this story was just too boring for me. Although I found myself actually looking up some of the words she used because I'd never heard them before, the story never caught my ear or made me want to know more about her life. She did use very descriptive writing and I could imagine being in that place for a moment. I try to finish the projects I start, but I decided this book was just not for me and I shelved it due to lack of interest.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 30, 2009

      I Also Recommend:

      Not a book I would recommend.

      I found the book to be very depressing, despite the authors enlightenment. There was so much death in the book. I did find it interesting to learn about the wildlife search and rescue wardens though. It was not riveting, it was a chore to read.

      If you're looking for something about spiritual growth, I would much rather read something like The Shack.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted October 31, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      Jennifer Wardrip - Personal Read

      This was a really great read! Although not outwardly religious, I find it exciting to read about those who live their lives trying to follow God's plan. For Ms. Braestrup, that involves working as the chaplain for a group of Wildlife Search and Rescue Operatives.<BR/><BR/>This book isn't just about religion -- it's about the author's desire to both follow her heart and honor her deceased husband's dream, and about helping others in the only way she knew how.<BR/><BR/>Very encouraging and uplifting, this is basically just an all-around good read.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 9, 2008

      I keep re-reading this book

      Thank you, Kate, for writing this book. It is funny, wise, poignant, and real. I keep going back and re-reading passages from it, and I love your depiction of 'miracles.' I don't usually read books concerning spirituality, but this is also a memoir and a fantastic narrative, so beautifully written. I generally rely on Book-Crossings to launch and share my books, but this time, I'm going to keep my copy and buy another to give away. Again, thank you for all that you share in this book.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 20, 2008

      Warm & Sensitive Approach to Grief and Loss

      I picked up this book after hearing the author's public radio interview on 'Speaking of Faith.' Kate is a talented writer, and her love and compassion radiate throughout the book. As a single parent, I could immediately relate to the challenge of integrating her calling with raising 4 children. Kate sprinkles her storytelling with humor and wisdom. She successfully balances the lighter side of her memoir while writing about the intimate moments of her own loss and her walk with others experiencing personal anguish. I finished the book this morning and passed it on to a friend who recently lost his 21-year-old daughter through a senseless tragedy.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted June 16, 2008

      If only we all had her strength and courage.

      This book catches you from page one. You will be comforted by her strength and honesty. She is an excellent writer. Talented woman, strong woman. I wish it rubbed off onto me while I held the book in my hands. Run, don't walk to get this books. cindy c

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 28, 2008

      A reviewer

      From start to finish, I dont think there was a single point in this book that I didn't find enjoyment in. The first chapter just throws the reader right into the thick of the books heart wrenching, funny, soulful experience. This might come as a surprise to those who know me, because thopse who know me know that I do not have any religious aspirations. I do support religion, however. The reason I loved this book so much 'apart from the fact that my beloved momdog wrote it' was that there was no point at which I felt like the book was preaching. The entire time i felt as thought the message was 'This is what I belive, this is how I overcame, and this is here I stand.' I strongly dislike it when something i read tells me that it is true and the sooner I accept it the better. The entirety of the book just felt like someone putting themself out there for anyone to see, to judge, to learn about, and to learn from, which I feel is the most enjoyable type of literature. Great book, I cant wait for the next one.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 4, 2008

      Immediately wonderful!

      I read this book in an afternoon and loved every moment of it. Kate Braestrup has a wonderful knack of serving up real life with her very interesting job, raising four kids without the man she loves and helping those find comfort in the unknown and death. This book should effectively touch your heart and make you realize we are all vulnerable. Her writing is real and I felt as though I knew her instantly. I'm going to insist my best friend put this one at the top of the things she must read.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 21, 2007

      Could barely make it through this book!

      After seeing that this book was getting five stars, I thought it was going to be great. I was highly disappointed and wanted to close it forever after a few chapters. I skipped many paragraphs and found it redundant and boring.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 21, 2007

      I had to give it away!

      After the first chapter of this book, I knew I'd have to give it away to my best friend. It is a moving, evocative, transforming story that must be shared. I have already thought of others to whom I shall give this lovely book! Federal Way WA

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 30, 2007

      Wonderful story told in a wonderful voice

      I hesitated before I bought this book on CD. I tend to avoid anything overtly religious - I'm easily annoyed by the too prevelant strident rightousness on the topic. But Kate Braestrup brings a warmth and openness to her story that is soothing and inspiring. Read this book, or listen to it - you won't regret it.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 28, 2007

      A Book Where Gems Fall Like Diamonds From A Mine

      Although I thought the fact that the author embraces a much different religious tradition than I do, after a few pages, it became clear, that this was not what the book was all about. I also thought this book would be filled with stories about either the exhilarating life of a minister or a book about pastoral burn out. To assume these as the central themes of the book would be to sell a great book short. This is a book which allows the reader to walk along side the author, as some of the most tragic and heart-wrenching events a person could encounter. To find among the many broken people and heart-rending situations the many gems this books contains made it a book I could not put down. After starting this book, I could not find a place where I could put it down. I read it straight through in the matter of only a few hours. In telling her 'true' story, the author opens wide the doors of understanding, knowledge and experience dealing with people who are facing, will face or have faced what would be best described as probably the most difficult circumstances they will even have to encounter. Demonstrating through her daily experiences, in the course of her day-to-day life, the author applies pulls us into the souls and hearts of the people she must help, while remaining a shoulder to cry on, a ear to listen with and a heart to reach out and offer hope, comfort and reassurance. As the author herself confronts the tragedy of tragedies, the reader is brought into the most innermost part of her mind and heart as she struggles to work through her many emotions. While at the same time experiencing the aftermath with and through her children, the author shows that there is a dawning after the dark. She shows that there is indeed a time to cry and a time to laugh. To see that out of the ashes of nearly complete devastation a ¿new person¿ can emerge, a person with a purpose and a reason to be and a mission to fulfill. I recommend this book for the style of writing, which is first-class the insights and techniques needed to succeed in general ministry, in crisis counseling and when called upon to answer those questions, when asked, for which there are no right answers. From a book I thought I pretty much knew what it would contain, I was very wrong. I was pleasantly surprised at he depth and range of ideas and perspectives this book delivered. This book was an excellent read and one which sneaked up on the reader, dropping jewel after jewel of wisdom opening door after door of new ideas and vault after vault of treasures which can be applied to everyone¿s life, personally, professionally and spiritually.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted June 8, 2007

      Search & Rescue: Death, Love and More in the Maine Woods

      This down to earth account of one woman's search for meaning will make your heart soar. The author reacts to her state trooper husband's tragic death by becoming a search-and-rescue chaplain for the Maine State Warden service and she recounts the dramatic unfolding of several real search missions and their outcomes. It's funny, reverent and irreverant in about equal measure, and offers everything a good 'and true!' story should have: mystery, drama, pathos, humor, even a love story that begins with the author's four children making a list of attributes that their mom's prospective boyfriend should have. Don't miss it.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted June 8, 2012


      Great read!

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 5, 2012

      I really enjoyed this read

      This is the second book I have read from her and while I enjoyed the first one more, this was excellent.

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    • Posted February 22, 2011

      loved it!

      only compaints...the author got a little 'preachy' in a couple of places, and it was too short...i wanted to hear more about the searches and missing folks.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 12, 2010


      We loved this book. Intimate, real, deeply sacred, compelling.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 11, 2010

      A good read

      I definitely thought that the book was a good one to read. It was a good easy read. I finished it pretty quickly with only reading for a half hour a day. There's not really much suspense in the book but it's definitely enlightening.

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    • Posted October 10, 2009

      Great feel good read

      I could relate with the author. At times I had a hard time getting back into the book. Would have liked her to continue telling about her life now!! Great read.

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