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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)
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
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
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.
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.