Book review: Journey to Joy

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author: ethan butterfield | a&c editor

local book sparks movement / Jeremy Davis

Local book reinforces finding joy in life

For those who haven’t heard, there’s been a certain novel that’s sweeping the city by storm in a positive way. The one in which I refer to is the Journey to Joy by Christalee Froese. The novel itself is based around (the following of which can be found on the Journey to Joy website) “Froese on her two-year joy project to restore her happiness… and her faith in life. Spending 21 days each month focusing on what brings her joy, the author immerses herself in the topics of Food, Travel, Fitness, Faith, Love, etc.”
It’s unreal stuff to say the least. This isn’t just a journey for Christalee, though, as the novel is helping people go on their own journey to find the same happiness (if they’re looking for it) for themselves. Don’t take my word for it, however, as Christalee was able to comment on this aspect, as well as other aspects of her written work: 

“I’m simply overwhelmed by the positive response to Journey to Joy. The book seems to have touched a chord with many who have suffered in silence with depression and anxiety. Bringing the taboo subject matter of a nervous breakdown into the light has allowed people to open up to me about their own emotional challenges and that has been the real gift in this whole process.” 

The truth on display here is empowering to be sure. The ability to open up about a subject such as a nervous breakdown is something not easily done. But not only did Christalee open up about it, she put it on display for the world to see, and, perhaps this might just be me, but I think the reading-world can thank her for doing such an act.
Again though, don’t take my word for it; Christalee wasn’t just able to comment on the response that Journey to Joy has enjoyed, but also why she personally believes it’s so well received. 

“I think the book has been so well received because it was an act of total vulnerability. I joke that I accidentally released my diary because what the pages contain is my real-time recovery from a nervous breakdown. Readers sense when someone has opened up a very private part of their lives to them, and the reward has been when people feel safe opening up to me about their own struggles.” 

So it would seem that that act of total vulnerability is something that readers can certainly be thankful for, as it helps them to open up about their own lives and their own struggles, as Christalee describes.
Moving from the message of the book and to the publishing aspect, it wasn’t an easy path,according to Christalee.  

“Publishing the book was actually a very stressful and anxious part of the process for me – it’s hard to put yourself on a page and not feel judged. But the More Joy Movement, which has come out of the book, is what has made it all worthwhile. In January, we gathered 400 people together to talk openly about depression and anxiety and we are encouraging readers to join the More Joy Challenge, which helps them add joy to their lives. I feel a sense of true purpose now that I can see what the book has created – a place where people feel safe and supported talking about depression and anxiety.” 

I was very fortunate to attend one of the More Joy Movement gatherings and it was quite the uplifting experience. Of course, the subject matter itself is a bit difficult just due to the sheer weight of topics like anxiety and depression, but the information and discussions are all truthful and offer people a great chance to engage with one another.
Froese said that publishing wasn’t the only difficult step in the road, as writing the novel was also a rather difficult step to take. 

“When I started to write what became the bones for the book, it was an act of pure desperation. I journaled simply to try to save myself from the insidious, self-deprecating thoughts I was having as a result of depression. I didn’t really expect that my sometimes-tortured words would find a receptive audience because it was such a personal journey. However, the book has really resonated with a wide audience, whether male or female or younger or older. I’m still shocked that I’ve sold over 2,200 copies. I remember when I first got the book published; I thought 250 copies would probably be more than enough to get printed. And even at that, I thought I’d have stacks leftover and that most of the ones I did sell would be to my mom.” 

 For more information on the More Joy Movement and the book itself, visit the website at bookjourneytojoy.com.  

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