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Here If You Need Me: A True Story

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  5,157 Ratings  ·  989 Reviews
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Kate Braestrup was living an enviably happy life as a wife and mother, when one morning her beloved husband was killed in a traffic accident. Fighting her grief, she decided to follow his dream -- and became a chaplain to the game warden service in their Maine community.

Game wardens, it turns out, are a special breed, and they n
Paperback, 211 pages
Published July 2nd 2008 by Back Bay Books (first published 2007)
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Aug 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, memoir, maine, 2007
I don't know quite what to say about this book other than: GOOD. I was trying to explain this to a coworker, and they gave me the "sure, right, uh-huh" look. It hits one of my fiction kinks, what with all the heroic actions undertaken by real people who care about the people they're trying to help. But it's better, because it's real.

Within the first thirty pages or so, I had cried at least twice, but had laughed out loud considerably more. She comes across as incredibly genuine; the loss of her
Sep 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
I’d read a few good reviews for “Here If You Need Me,” by Kate Braestrup, but was a little put-off by the “quasi-religious” theme. Very quasi, as it turns out. She’s a Chaplain for the Maine Warden Service (the Maine equivalent of a cross between a Parks Ranger and a Game Warden). She’s married and has six kids and has a very funny attitude about religion, what she describes as “the God thing.”

Anyway, finally broke down and bought it late yesterday afternoon and within the first two chapters (it
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is sneaky: at first, I thought that it started slow - though with a compellingly tragic story whose point was unclear - but something about it touched me and I kept reading. I can now say that I am incredibly thankful for having done so, as this book is one of the most simple, honest, engaging and thought-provoking that I have read in some time.

Kate Braestrup does not claim to be an expert - in fact, it's in the sharing of her flawed humanity that she is so compelling - but she is so c
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was pretty full of nothing. On the one hand, anyone is free to write a book, I just wish there was a more selective way to know what books are going to have meat. I listened to the unabridged audio version so I heard how she wanted to tell the story, which in this case, I think made it worse because there isn't much room for imagination.

Here are my two takes:

The Bad: She's a minister but seems to be a contradicting one. She says she doesn't believe in heaven, that you just d
Feb 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate reading books that are a waste of time.

This is a true story of a woman who becomes a Warden Minister (someone they call to comfort the family when a relative is lost in the woods), because her husband, who is killed in a traffic accident, was going to become one.

She wasn't religious at all (her husband was somewhat), and she explained this to all of her professors as she studied religion. IF she is called out and finds out the family is atheist, she is able to put them at ease, because sh
Sep 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Kate Braesrup is a Unitarian Universalist minister for the Maine Warden Service whose husband, a state trooper, was killed in a car accident. The skeleton of this book is her journey from her husband's accident to minister through caring for the bereaved and caretakers of those lost or injured. However, the meat of the book are her interpretations of spirituality, religion and her practice of it. She does this with a light touch and with humor and I left the book feeling centered, grounded and r ...more
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, trin, spirit
This book is quietly and unassumingly beautiful.

In terms of Big Picture, it's a book about divinity and theology - it's about the author's conviction that where the divine shows itself is in ordinary expressions of love between people; in the casserole the neighbors bring over after a death in the family; in the community that searches for a lost resident; in the guy who scritches behind a lamb's ears and makes it bleat with happiness (real guy, real lamb, all in Maine - it's not an allegory).

Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was just fabulous. It was fabulous. I went and heard the author talk earlier this winter and enjoyed myself a bit, but felt a little skeptical about the quality of such a "local" book. But everyone kept telling me how good it was. So I checked it out from the library, read it and was amazed. Prepare to cry in almost every chapter. I love what she has to say about God and I love what she has to say about the doing of very hard work without becoming hard and cynical. It actually made me ...more
Aug 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is exquisite. I've veered away from organized religion in the past five years or so, and ordinarily the story of a woman becoming a chaplain and the work that she does would give me the heebie-jeebies. However, Braestrup's stories of finding divinity and love and peace and salvation in the mundane, and the unique way she has of looking at the work of the Maine Game Wardens is fascinating and moving. If I had access to a chaplain like Kate Braestrup, I'd probably be more religious. Also ...more
Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not only is this woman a wonderful writer, but she's a Unitarian Universalist minister. And she has a sense of humor, which is important if you're the chaplain to the Maine Warden Service. There's a lot of standing around in cold and hot, swatting mosquitos, watching people and nature. Her definitition of who God is to her (pp. 54-55) is something I'll go back to again and again (not a white guy with a beard). Try it...

Deirdre Keating
Oct 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with an open mind
Shelves: audio-read
ETA: Have since read several times, and still love it passionately. Great book. I personally want to make the HBO series of it:)
You can subtract at least one star just knowing this was probably a case of "right book at the right time" for me. Also I haven't really read it yet---I was listening to it on CD.

I wondered if it would be engaging enough to keep me awake for my solo roadtrip to Flagstaff. I lik
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paper, reviewed
My mom is a pastor, not a chaplain (they are related, but not identical), and I see her do a lot of this work, the work of sitting with someone and not knowing the answers. It's hard. There are no good answers.

This was a really hard book to read. Bad things happen to lots of nice people, especially children. As someone who had to give up on some shows (Cold Case and SVU, I'm looking at you) because now that I have kids, they are just too scary. and as you might expect, sometimes little kids die
Sep 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
What a powerful book. This has been on my to-read list for over a year, so I tore through it in one plane flight and have been mentally chewing on it ever since. Braestrup's life provides ample drama to move the narrative forward (I won't spoil the story other than to say that it starts with the death of her husband, and follows her unique decision to move on with her life as a minister to search-and-rescue workers), but it's her humble meditations on spirituality that are the most memorable par ...more
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to C by: Danica Midlil
Danica recommended this to me during a couple of our random conversations. I like Park Ranger (or, in this case, game warden) stories, I'm lost in ambiguity about my spirituality, and I'm a bit of a nature nerd.

But really, I think we were discussing loss the second time the book came up. I finally put it on hold.

By the book description you might think this is going to be an emotionally difficult read. It does have some heart wrenching moments, of course, but this is not the overall tone of the
Apr 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Started this book 4/9/11 and I'm on Chapter 4. So far it's a bit morbid and off-beat, but it is holding my interest.

4/24/11-It took me a bit to finish this book just because I needed to be in the mood to read it. Otherwise, it is a quick read. It is not a 'sun-shiny' read. It is about Ms. Braestrup losing her husband, becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister and becoming a Maine Warden chaplain. She is called to the scene of search & rescues. A child lost in the Maine woods, a couple who g
Aug 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I surprised myself by liking this so much. Braestrup is such a genuine, tolerant and funny person. Her husband's death is so sad, her stories of seminary are hilarious (especially her brother's reactions), and I loved her children (please can I have a child like Woolie and named thus?). I was actually almost fascinated by her chaplain work and developed a lot of respect for the universalist-unitarian church. I would like to know how Braestrup is paid, and if she isn't, how she manages to live bu ...more
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I loved this book. It is a true story written by a widow who decides to become a Unitarian minister and work as a chaplain for Maine's game warden service. She writes about grief, love, commitment and hope as it interwines with search and rescue missions, death notifications and simple ceremonial invocations. I am touched by her view on faith which is surely tested in her work in which evil and bad luck are frequent visitors. When a dead child's body is pulled from an icy lake, we all ask, Where ...more
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
excellent book by a woman who retooled as a Unitarian Universalist minister after her husband died in an auto accident. She works as a chaplain for game wardens in Maine, ministering to both the wardens and the people they help. The main activity, and the source of action in the book, is search-and-rescue missions for kids who have gotten lost, ice fisherpeople who fall through the ice, etc.

Mostly it's about her grieving for her husband, raising 4 kids as a single mom who remarries just before t
Nov 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of those rare finds that really hooks it's way into and sticks for good. It's a woman's reflection on her life of being a widow, a mother of four and a Unitarian minister who works with Game Wardens. When people are lost she's there for the family. It's just really inspiring on a very basic level. It's about the joy and horror of ordinary days. It's philosophical, but simple. Her voice is endearing and honest. It's filled with little treasures that make you ponder. It made me wa ...more
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I lived in Maine for 40 years, and moved to California 3 years ago. I have, virtually, never looked back -- of course we miss our friends, and sometimes we miss our bigger house, and I miss not being scared of earthquakes -- but until I read this book, I had not missed Maine-ness. This book made me feel homesick for the first time in three years. Kate Braestrup may be a 'transplant' to Maine, but she is a Mainah-- in her deep love and respect for the landscape and its people, especially Maine Ga ...more
Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, spirituality
I'm giving this 4 stars b/c I found Kate Braestrup really likable. She's the kind of person I would want to be my friend. I also like that she wasn't pushy with her religion at all. I'm often wary of reading Christian books b/c I don't want to feel like someone's trying to convert me, but I didn't get that vibe from Braestrup at all. My big complaint about the book is that, while she's an enjoyable writer, sometimes it felt like she was all over the place. The book was a little bit disorganized, ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not quite what I expected and in this case that was ok. I thought that it would be more about the Maine Warden Service, and while tales of the Wardens were definitely a large part of the book, this story is about Love, faith, family and spirituality above all. As someone who has drifted away from church and some of the teachings I grew up with, I found the spirituality side of the story especially intriguing. I appreciated Kate's honestly, her compassion and her ability to just 'th ...more
Kimberly Patton
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Her writing is beautiful. My favorite sections were found in the very beginning and the very end. I don't agree with her religion but I learned a lot about what she believes, (it coincides with Rob Bell's teaching). Her memoir mixes reality with her kids with her job and it was a very very interesting read.
The author reads her own book and is awesome. This book can be sobering, and it's a tiny bit scary in a few parts. It deals with death quite a bit. But it is also very gentle and heartening, and sometimes humorous.
“According to our plan, I would have gone on writing, but I would also be a minister’s wife. It would have been a fine life.” p. 19

Someone said that life is what happens while you are busy planning. This is what happens to Braestrup. She and her husband have a arrangement for when he retires from working as a state trooper in Maine. He will go to seminary and she will continue to write. Because her husband is in a fatal accident, Braestrup is the one who goes to seminary. She also becomes the ch
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ken by: Penny
At times sentimental due to its subject matter and at times choppy due to its episodic nature, Here If You Need Me overcomes in the long run as author Kate Braestrup chronicles her years as a chaplain for the Maine Warden Service. She confesses to many paradoxes, chief among them her love of a job that she never would have entered had she not suffered the tragedy of her state trooper husband's death. You see, husband Drew had intended a second career as a minister and Kate takes up the banner af ...more
Jun 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up at a bookstore in the Atlanta airport and finished it while drinking margaritas at the airport Chili's, where everything is served on plastic. It combined many of my favorite themes- existential ponderings of a sensitive soul, a moving love story, humorous family anecdotes, and, of course, stories about murders, suicides, accidents, and dead bodies. All in a great setting, the deep, dark woods of rural Maine. Braestrup is a good writer and I thoroughly enjoyed her book. I w ...more
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate's husband died in an accident so she lived his dream of attending seminary before becoming a chaplain to the game wardens in Maine. She tells her story so smoothly, in a way so filled with insight into others and herself, that I could not put it down.
Early in the memoir, Kate tells of working as a candy striper before deciding not to become a doctor, and her description of her interaction with an elderly patient is typical of her descriptive, rich prose.
"I just loved being with Annie Payne.
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chaplain and minister friends, anyone working through grief.
Recommended to Joy by: On Being, NPR
This book is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. After the death of her husband, Kate goes to seminary and becomes a chaplain for the Game Warden division of the state of Maine. The memoir talks a lot about death-both the death of her husband and the death of people in the Maine mountains and forests whom she prays for and notifies families for. It also talks about grief and how she moves through it. She does this in a way that doesn't skirt the discussion of death with polite euphemisms a ...more
Diane Blodgett
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! The author is a chaplain with the Maine Park Ranger service. She goes out with the search and rescue team when someone is lost in the woods to pray if a body is found, to support the search and rescue team, to help support the family, to rejoice when the person is found alive, etc. Her book is filled with stories about her experiences, her own loss, her family, and herself. She is a wonderful writer who one minute had me in tears and in another had me laughing out loud. Having ...more
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“Ah. I smiled. I'm not really here to keep you from freaking out. I'm here to be with you while you freak out, or grieve or laugh or suffer or sing. It is a ministry of presence. It is showing up with a loving heart.” 60 likes
“But then, a grateful heart beats in a world of miracles. If I could only speak one prayer for you, my children, it would be that your hearts would not only beat but grow ever greater in gratitude, that your lives, however long they prove to be and no matter how they end, continue to bring you miracles in abundance.” 23 likes
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