Before I begin this review of Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God, by Ginny Kubitz Moyer (who blogs most delightfully at Mary and Me), I have to give you a disclaimer, dear reader: I’m biased to the hilt, and a big fan of the author, and I’m quite possibly going to put this book on the Top Gifts to Give My Friends list.

I heard about this book when I hosted the book-themed Mary Moments carnival back in August, and I was intrigued, especially by the title. The last time I read a book with a similar title, I was sucked in by the story and the down-to-earth-ness of it. And though I heard that some of the ladies in my parish were offended by parts of that book, it’s the book that really got me to pray a daily rosary. Different things inspire each of us, I suppose.

Maybe Mary and Me won’t be your cup of tea. Maybe you don’t even really “get” the whole Mary thing…and you’d be in good company. This book is filled with reflections and insights from Catholic women, some of whom weren’t always big fans of Mary. The author herself shares some reflections that had me laughing and grabbing the tissues.

“ the end, Mary’s ‘yes’ challenges me to think about my own way of dealing with life’s turning points. In the mini-annunciation of my own life, how do I respond? I’m a long way from having her faith, but I like to think that in those moments when I stand at a crossroads, she’s there for me, as she is for all of us, a heavenly champion who nudges us toward our greatest joy. ‘I said “yes” to what God offered me,’ Mary seems to say, ‘and I’ve never regretted it. Neither will you.’”

In my world, there’s a huge value to things that make me consider life differently. I don’t always agree with the things that force my different perspective, but I do value them. It’s one of the reasons why I so value my relationships with the friends in my life I can disagree with without the tingling in my scalp that signals anger and frustration.

I found this sort of value in Mary and Me. I also found new insight into the role of the Blessed Mother in my own life.

Consider suffering, for example – I often turn to Mary when I’m in pain, but I have only ever been able to articulate it vaguely. “Well, she was at the foot of the Cross,” I’ll reason in my head…and though I know that wasn’t an easy thing to do, it seems sort of lame.

“In moments of grief, it’s hard to be in the company of someone who has had what we deem a painless life. They seem to us to have no hard-won wisdom or empathy with which to comfort us. In Mary, though, we find the opposite: a woman who walks with familiarity into the middle of our worst suffering. While many people find solace in seeing her as a powerful figure, one whose intercession can lessen our pain, sometimes there’s a more visceral comfort in remembering her vulnerability. When we’re lost in our own pain, walking that lonely road between death and resurrection, we meet the distraught mother by the wayside and find that she is just like us: a woman whose grief is surpassed only by her love.”

This book is one I’ll lend out, though, be assured I’ll be keeping track of who has it, because I know I’ll be turning back to it. It’s also the sort of book I’ll be purchasing for friends…because I can think of quite a few women who need the wisdom, comfort, and insight that’s included. You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate that God’s mom loves you. You don’t have to be a “Mary freak” to smile at the company of another woman’s shoulder in times of challenge and pain. You don’t have to be a big reader to make it through this relatively short book.

And if you find, my friend, that your library doesn’t carry a copy, email me. I’ll mail you mine. Because it’s that good.