Cold Tangerines is a collection of stories that celebrate the extraordinary moments hidden in our everyday lives. It is about God, and about life, and about the thousands of daily ways in which an awareness of God changes and infuses everything. It is about spiritual life, and about all the things that we have called nonspiritual life that might be spiritual after all. It is the snapshots of a young woman making peace with herself and her life, and trying to craft a life that captures the energy and exuberance we long for in the midst of the fear and regret and envy we all carry with us. It is both a voice of challenge and song of comfort, calling us upward to the best possible life, and giving us room to breathe, to rest, to break down and break through. Cold Tangerines offers bright and varied glimpses of hope and redemption, in and among the heartbreak And boredom and broken glass.
Niequist, a 30-year-old mother and first-time author, wants readers to look around their ordinary lives and celebrate all their manifold, quotidian blessings. To that end, she offers 40 short essays, each an exploration of something mundane and wonderful: getting pregnant, throwing parties, collecting champagne flutes. She recalls a breakup that deepened her relationship with God, and explains why moving into a fixer-upper helped her learn that God loves us as we are. A lovely, honest and wistful tone characterizes the title piece, an ode to living a life of gratitude and joy. Essays on a friend's health scare, the power of art and experiencing Christmas with a newborn are especially powerful. Yet Niequist's relentlessly first-person reflections would have been leavened by more fully developing some of the other characters, the relatives and friends who pop up. Sometimes her prose is annoyingly abstract ("if we cultivate a true attention, a deep ability to see what has been there all along, we will find worlds within and between us"), and there are clich d observations. Still, with a bit of seasoning (and more vigorous editing), Niequist could be a writer to watch.