Craigslist Confessional: A Collection of Secrets from Anonymous Strangers by Helena Dea Bala- ARC Review

What would you confess if you knew it would never get back to your spouse, your colleagues, or your family? What story would you tell about your life if a stranger was willing to listen with no judgement, no stigma, and no consequences—just an unburdening and the relief of confession?

After graduating from law school, Helena Dea Bala was a lobbyist in Washington, DC, struggling to pay off her student loans. She felt lonely and unfulfilled but, after a chance conversation with a homeless man she often saw on her commute, she felt…better. Talking with a stranger, listening to his problems, and sharing her own made her feel connected and engaged in a way she hadn’t in a long time. Inspired, she posted an ad on Craigslist promising to listen, anonymously and for free, to whatever the speaker felt he or she couldn’t tell anyone else. The response was huge—thousands of emails flooded her inbox. People were desperate for the opportunity to speak without being judged, to tell a story without worrying it would get back to friends, family, or coworkers—and so Craigslist Confessional was born.

The forty confessions in Craigslist Confessional are vivid, intimate, and real. Each story is told in the confessor’s voice; they range from devastating secrets (like addiction, depression, and trauma), to musings on lost love and reflections on a lifetime of hard choices. Some confessions are shocking, like the husband who is hiding his crippling sex  addiction from his wife. Others are painful, like the man who is so depressed he rarely leaves his hoarder apartment. Some give us a glimpse into a brief chapter of someone’s life—like the girl who discovered that her boyfriend was cheating on her with a mutual friend, or the college student who became a high-end call girl. Others are inspiring, such as the woman who lost her son too young, but sees his memory live on through the people who received his donated organs.

Every confession presents a point of view not often seen, not often talked about. Craigslist Confessional challenges us to explore the depth of our empathy and it’s a call to listen to one another. (taken from Amazon)

 

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on July seventh.

I was originally intrigued by this book because it was described as appealing to readers of Postsecrets. For those who don’t know, the concept behind Postsecrets is this: people write their secret, whatever it may be, on a postcard and mail it anonymously to an address. The postcards are collected and printed. The secrets range from sad to uplifting. Craigslist Confessional feels like a longhand version.

First of all, people like the author of this book are rare. To be able to just listen to someone tell a story, without offering advice or judgement, is a skill that not everyone has. It’s apparent throughout that author Helena Dea Bala really cares about the people she speaks with, and it makes the book even better.

This book is really, really good. It’s also really sad. Often, the stories not shared by people are left untold because they’re so hard to tell. The book contains tales of drug use, death, and regret. However, there are also stories of triumph and encouragement. Five minutes in, I was tearing up. I don’t often cry at books (although when I do, I completely fall apart), but this book got to me.

That being said, this book will not be for everyone. Parts of it are incredibly harsh. To be honest, I skipped a couple of the stories, once I realized where they were going. I did that to avoid things that might upset my mental well being. Even though I had to skip a few of the stories, I loved the rest of the book. It is a reminder that, even though we don’t all share the same experiences, we all share the same emotions. We can all relate.

If you can handle reading about the tougher subjects, I recommend this book.

2 thoughts on “Craigslist Confessional: A Collection of Secrets from Anonymous Strangers by Helena Dea Bala- ARC Review

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