Idea: Camacho-Maas's childhood/adult lives and her social and mystical passions are intriguing and set the stage for a distinct narrative about her impressive life. Several important plot points only get a few sentences and resolve quite quickly, lacking a strong emotional resonance. The plot goes from Aura's abusive childhood to her work and spiritual awakening a bit too fast, without the needed segues to craft a cohesive story. This memoir is compelling in parts, but seems disjointed as a whole.
Prose/Style: Camacho-Maas writes with emotion and eloquence; her writing is especially impressive. Her abuse as a child and her mental health struggles are simply put, yet harrowing. The prose about mysticism and Spirit is powerful and articulate, too. The only part that seems out of place is the discussion of her nonprofit work. Here, imagery tells a story as opposed to the prose, which tells more than shows.
Originality: Camacho-Maas's journeys through her childhood, the natural world, and the mystical are intriguing to read about, yet a lack of cohesion in the middle of the memoir threatens to make readers lose interest in her ultimately uplifting story.
Character Development/Execution: Aura's personality is strong, passionate, and compelling. While she does create full characterizations of her mother and father, the lack of details about her husband and her siblings seems like a miss and lessens the emotional core of her growth as a spiritual person.
Date Submitted: January 30, 2021
Camacho-Maas employs concise and effective writing as she shares earnest autobiographical accounts in episodic, intimate, and reflective observations that support her evolving intuitions and worldview. She sees fear as the basis of discord and discrimination in the world. Her easygoing sophistication makes the analysis of her revelations accessible while she probes the deeper meaning behind each experience. She does not shy away from discussing her mental health struggles, repressed anguish, and emotional burnouts with gentle sensitivity, seamlessly blending her interpersonal, psychological, and spiritual experiences in the later chapters.
Readers may be taken aback when the tone markedly shifts from sentimental to businesslike as Camacho-Maas describes her initial years founding her nonprofit agency, the Latin American Resource Center. The memoir subsequently loses some cohesion, and it takes a while to bring the reader back into the core subject. Fortunately, the included illustrations by children from a variety of backgrounds, part of a traveling exhibit Camacho-Maas coordinated through her work with international school systems, help to link her work with some of her more personal insights. Camacho-Maas’s lessons in the healing and dismantling of the self are profound and make her journey feel both mystical and wholesome.
Takeaway: This memoir of spiritual seeking is a perfect fit for readers looking for storytelling with a transcendental quality.
Great for fans of Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B+