“Six years before I landed in Bosnia, the Virgin Mary was no more than a dim memory, another fairy tale from my childhood as I sat in my rocker day after day, heartbroken over a man, but really over my life, which I thought of as pathetically impoverished.” So begins Looking for Mary, a book I discovered thanks to a friend’s casual recommendation.

Looking for Mary is far from a sterile story of devotion, but is instead the rambling, real-life journey of a woman who I couldn’t help but relate with. Full of thorny relationships and with a heart that was ravaged by her life, Beverly Donofrio finds herself intrigued by the Blessed Mother. First, she is just interested in images, and she collects them around her house. Then, after a series of decisions and choices that seem to be unrelated, she decides to visit Medjugorje, the Bosnian village where the Blessed Mother has been allegedly appearing since 1981, for a radio documentary on NPR.

It is in Medjugorje that Beverly becomes a believer, but not in the cookie-cutter, uncritical sense. Donofrio rebels against the craziness she sees in the others, and although she sees the spinning sun, smells roses, and experiences miracles, she remains true to what becomes her down-to-earth relationship with Mary. She experiences conversion of heart, and she begins to pray the Rosary.

Her story is inspiring to those of us who have made mistakes in our lives, who have made decisions we regret, and who have been living with consequences that seem too hard. Looking for Mary encouraged me to begin praying the Rosary daily, and I have found in that devotion a comfort I now find cannot live without.