There are few among us who can’t relate to Lorna Crawford in some way. She has a job she loves with coworkers she decidedly doesn’t; a boyfriend who is sweet and charming, but constantly tied up with work; and a mother in whose eyes she never quite measures up. When we meet Lorna, she is on the verge of a road rage meltdown – something anybody who’s ever had to commute anywhere can understand – and we soon learn that this is a fair indication of her life as a whole. When she finds herself unreasonably frustrated with her closest group of girlfriends, Lorna knows it’s time for a change.
Lorna’s journey to enlightenment begins with some gentle prodding from her sister, interfaith minister Angelica (Anna), who consistently encourages her: “Last time something serendipitous happened to me, she quoted this fellow, Deepak something, who wrote in some book that coincidences are messages.” (p. 9) As Lorna jumps in to weekly yoga sessions, spiritual self-help books and nightly attempts at meditation (sujaling, as she calls it), she opens herself up to new friends and new understanding about her life. However, as uplifted as she feels in the moment, she finds her progress threatened by outside influences as well as her own self-doubt.
In Downward Dog, Upward Fog, Meryl Davids Landau explores the path to spiritual awakening and serenity with its many obstacles and small victories, with a protagonist who is sympathetic because she could be any one of us. Her supporting characters are equally engaging, realistic three-dimensional individuals rather than mere caricatures of the “nagging mother” or the “enlightened one”, which allows the reader to fall more completely into the story.
I was concerned that the spiritual concepts presented would be somehow separate from the central story, especially because of the potential for descriptions that would go over the average reader’s head. Fortunately, Landau approached the road to spirituality primarily from Lorna’s perspective, making the reader a partner in her discovery and development and maintaining the accessibility of those concepts. Anybody could, after reading this book, choose to begin a similar spiritual journey with a level of comfort she may not have had before. Even if the spiritual journey lasts no longer than the last page, the reader will find herself rooting for a happy ending – for Lorna, and ultimately for herself.
Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her fiancé and a room full of books that she peruses when she isn’t trolling Apartment Therapy for new decorating ideas. In her free time she enjoys maintaining her blog, The Writer’s Closet, planning her wedding, and baking tasty gluten-free treats.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Meryl Davids Landau. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.