Beverly’s New Memoir

Astonished:
A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace

Book Reading Dates

Astonished “Even though I do know the important question is not why this happened to me but what I’m going to do now; and even though I was fifty–five and the attacker was a serial rapist in a small town, raping gringo women between fifty and sixty; and even though I, along with the entire town, felt like evil had come for a visit and it was not personal; and even though this little round–faced pervert with a big–billed baseball cap woke me in the middle of the night in the middle of a deep sleep in my own bed with a knife inches from my face, I was absolutely shocked that he chose me. This was not supposed to happen; I was supposed to have escaped: I had hot flashes and liver spots and was finally in the final stretch. I’d survived all these decades without experiencing this thing I dreaded as much as death—and had just been looking for a monastery to join, for Christ’s sake.”

So begins a surprising journey of healing and love as I practice as a monk at monasteries, and the journey that began in pain and fear fills with peace and joy, spirit and nature, saints and mystics and ordinary people. Four years after it all began, I can be nothing but grateful for the tragedy. Pain, upsets, derailments are part of life—of everyone’s life. And I hope that whenever they visit again, I will remember—and so will my friends and readers—this Jonathan Wilson quote: “We can believe that the darkest darkness may indeed be a light so bright that it’s blinding our weak eyes.“

I am back in the world now, a changed woman, feisty again, but maybe, I hope, a little bit wiser, a tiny bit kinder, a big blue–sky–worth’s more peaceful, and definitely excited to be able to share this story in Astonished.

Read more about Astonished, and watch a video sneak preview of Bev reading from her new book.

Reviews for Astonished

Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace" is … a smart, funny memoir about a woman seeking answers to some very hard questions, among them: How can God allow such evil to happen? And what does he want me to learn from it? ”
— San Francisco Chronicle
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“Anyone who has been the victim of a crime will appreciate Donofrio’s honesty and sympathy, but her memoir is for everyone who appreciates a story well told. It is an unsparing but also hopeful account of evil and misery and suffering as well as joy and goodness and forgiveness.”
— June Sawyers, Booklist
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“ Reading Donofrio’s memoir, Astonished is, in itself, an astonishing experience. She grapples with her faith in ways and in words that startle, move, mesmerize, wrench, enliven, and thrill the reader. It is a narrative composed of brutal honesty, tenderness, and an aching love for God. I could not put it down. ”
— Sue Monk Kidd
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“ Anyone who can read Bev Donofrio’s first paragraph and stop should be interdict for life from libraries and bookstores. She is one first–class human being and, to my mind, a down–and–dirty saint. I’m grateful for the privilege of being invited into her radiant soul. ”
— William J. O’Malley, S.J., author of The Fifth Week
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“ To me, Beverly Donofrio is part Abigail Thomas, part Anne Lamott, part Kathleen Norris, and 100 percent original. Terrifying and, at moments, terribly funny. Candid, compelling, and, above all else, wise. ”
— Sara Pritchard, author of Crackpots and Help Wanted: Female
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“ As beautiful as it is authentic, Astonished is one of the most compelling, appealing, and instructive spiritual autobiographies I have read in many a year. ”
— Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why
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“ In her third autobiographical work (after Looking for Mary) Donofrio wrestles spiritually with the concept of evil after being raped at knifepoint in her Mexico home. ”
— Publishers Weekly
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“ The conclusion of her journey, following her torrent of questions for and about divine power, lies in her realization that her faith is unshakeable and her attack, ultimately, showed her the heart of God. Honest, engaging and cathartic. ”
— Kirkus Review
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“ …Donofrio’s journey around the country and into her inner life is compelling material beautifully written. Perpetually humble, searching, honest and wry, Donofrio is a fine companion for a spiritual journey. ”
— BookPage
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Astonished  Makes Pick of the Week at The Daily Beast: “What’s most compelling, besides Donofrio’s simultaneously warm and tough–as–nails voice, is the openness of her heart toward good old–fashioned faith, and her willingness to accept God into her life...the fact that she was able to take such ugliness and transform it into the beauty of this book is a stunning accomplishment.”
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