Tiny Beautiful Things existed in my peripheral vision for years. It came highly recommended by so many and always popped up in conversation. So, I bought a copy. It sat unread on my shelf for a few months.
A few weeks ago, I was expressing to my friend at work my sincere dislike for one of my friend’s boyfriends. How could she not see that she deserved so much more? Have I ever said that to her face? Maybe in a way, but nothing direct. He went straight to his desk, then the printer and then came back with an essay from the book entitled “Hell Is Other People’s Boyfriends”. The featured letter reflected my own personal struggle, and in response, Strayed wrote the most thoughtful but tough-to-swallow advice: know your boundaries. It’s fine to hate your friends boyfriend, but as long as she has all the facts, it is her life, and she makes her own decisions, and you have to be supportive. It was perfect.
I immediately went home and started the book. Now, my copy is littered with sticky tabs of my favourite quotes, and will now be the book I recommend to everyone. Always.
Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of Cheryl Strayed’s anonymous advice column in The Rumpus entitled Dear Sugar. Sugar began as Cheryl’s contemporary, Steve Almond but was taken over by her shortly after. But Sugar wasn’t your typical flowery advice columnist. Her advice was a straight cut to the jugular, and at the same time, the most passionate and thoughtful words you can imagine. She doesn’t mind telling you, sweet pea, that you are an idiot, but she will also cry over your letter, read it aloud to her husband and ponder it for weeks.
Sugar is a warm hug, a kick in the ass, and a reminder that you are indeed, only human; deeply flawed and utterly beautiful.
This collection features everything: love, sex, death, uncertainty, abuse, you name it. And somehow, even when the issue being discussed has no relevance to your life at all, it will touch your soul in a way you can’t possibly expect. And the ones that are relevant to your life, will blow you away. Cheryl uses her own life to find connections, to elaborate on feelings and to show you that no matter your question, you are not alone.
I don’t have the words to express how this affected me, because it resonates in the zone of feelings, not words. All I can say is that, trust me, you will love this. And “you” could be anyone .. just ask Sugar.