The Sum­mer of Yes

Win­ner of Ben­jamin Franklin Award sil­ver medal from the Inde­pen­dent Book Pub­lish­ers Asso­ci­a­tion and Indie Book Awards final­ist medals in both mem­oir and women’s issues.  The Ben­jamin Franklin Award is regarded as one of the high­est national hon­ors in small and inde­pen­dent publishing.

What is it like to spend 11 years of your young wom­an­hood in the con­vent? Why would you feel you had to leave in order to save your soul?

Karen Leahy takes you along on her life-changing jour­ney, through her heady first years on the out­side, through tri­umph and heart­break, to the sur­pris­ing turns in her search for authen­tic­ity, inti­macy and mean­ing.  It is at once a spir­i­tual jour­ney and a very human one.

It’s beau­ti­ful.  A work of art, all of it.”

A ter­rific book! Com­pletely fas­ci­nat­ing and engaging!”

Behind the Book

When you’re swept along in the first excite­ment of writ­ing a book—gathering mem­o­ries from the dusty cor­ners of your brain, get­ting a good idea in the mid­dle of the night, bring­ing peo­ple who have been impor­tant to you back into your emo­tional life—it’s all good, and exciting.

But the day comes when you have to decide: is this just a fun thing for me to do, or will I actu­ally pub­lish it? For me, that step took sev­eral years while I argued with myself about whether any­one else would really care about my life story.  I walked all around it, decid­ing yes, then no, then just want­ing not to think about it for awhile. Putting a book you’ve writ­ten out into the world is a bold gesture—almost embar­rass­ingly bold, espe­cially if you’re 72 and this is your first book! I wouldn’t have had the courage to do it if it hadn’t been for the many friends this book has gath­ered dur­ing its long ges­ta­tion, friends who got excited about it, who said, “You must get this book out!”

And then you start to worry about whether you’ve been fair to the real peo­ple who are depicted.  Even though you’ve changed their names and pro­claimed in the begin­ning of the book that you know your mem­ory won’t be reli­able, you worry, and even warn some it’s com­ing. Then all you can do is take a deep breath and pro­ceed.  It’s your story, after all.

“There is hardly any­thing more sacred than when a human being tells his or her story, and that’s espe­cially true when it is told beau­ti­fully, thought­fully and with a deep sense of hon­esty. That’s how I felt after read­ing Karen Leahy’s book. Engag­ing. Lib­er­at­ing. Forth­right. This book will have you turn­ing page after page, while at the same time mov­ing you more deeply into your own jour­ney of faith. I loved it. More impor­tantly, I expe­ri­enced a deep sense of grat­i­tude for her coura­geous storytelling.”

R. Scott Col­glazier, Senior Min­is­ter
First Con­gre­ga­tional Church of Los Angeles

As you’ll see from the sam­ple on the Excerpts page, between that first good idea and pub­li­ca­tion, you rewrite and rewrite and edit and then change some more, mak­ing con­nec­tions between chap­ters, rear­rang­ing, find­ing bet­ter ways to explain some­thing, dig­ging deep for emo­tional truth, cut­ting, rear­rang­ing, retitling—and finally a more expe­ri­enced writer-friend reminds you that a book is never really fin­ished.  You just decide one day that it’s time to cut bait and let it go.

So here it is. I wel­come your comments.

With warm best wishes,