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Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  229 ratings  ·  33 reviews
On the day her first book came outa new translation of Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the CrossMirabai Starrs daughter, Jenny, was killed in a car accident. My spiritual life began the day my daughter died, writes Mirabai. Even with decades of spiritual practice and a deep immersion in the greatest mystical texts, she found herself utterly unprepared for my most ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published November 1st 2015 by Sounds True
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  229 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Doreen Petersen
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Received this from Netgalley in return for an honest review.
To be honest I struggled with the first half of the book but when the author loses her beloved daughter and starts going through her grieving process it was like a lightbulb went off in my head and it all made sense to me. I've been through so much loss of close loved ones and in a way this book helped me to understand that I'm not alone and everyone has their own way of grieving. This is no right or wrong. That being said I would
Craig Bergland
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography, memoir
There were times in the first half of this book that I found myself bewildered, as the author's childhood was in some ways profoundly different from my own and in other, perhaps intangible ways very much like my own. I honestly didn't know what to make of it. Then, suddenly, I found myself in liminal space, a thin place, where the divide between the daily and the Holy is so gossamer thin as to be imperceptable. I understood where I was even as I realize I can't explain it very well. This is a ...more
Mariah McKenzie
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Caravan of No Despair drew me in and kept me captivated. It's like reading Jeannette Walls' "The Glass Castle," but for spiritual seekers. The searing honesty of Ms. Starr's sometimes disturbing personal journey reveals both the sacred and profane linings of an alternative lifestyleone I once deeply covetedyet also allows the reader to trust the moments when we feel, through Starrs telling, the transcendent power of abiding love and a spiritual life that sustains her despite everythingeven when ...more
Elizabeth Andrew
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
A beautiful narrative of a hippy, neglectful childhood, a spiritually abusive marriage, and the tragic loss of a daughter set against the backdrop of an abiding, embracing spiritual life.
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, spiritual
Having taken a course from Mirabai Starr through the Shift Network, I was very interested in her story and I found it fascinating and inspiring.
Elizabeth(The Book Whisperer)
Beautifully written
Monette Chilson
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was not at all what I expected, but I often find books that wander furthest from my expectations to be the most memorable. I picked this one up because the author has a spiritual life that draws from many traditions (like mine), and I thought the author's sudden loss of her daughter would help me process my sister's unexpected death.

I didn't expect to be caught up in a story that's more about life than death. Indeed, the bulk of this memoir is a rollicking coming-of-age ride through
Rena Graham
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Mirabai Starr writes with an incredible depth where it concerns the loss of a child and my heart was full of tears during this part of the book. I imagine her to be an incredibly beautiful person. My issue with this book however is that it seems to promote a type of confused path to spirituality that I feel is misleading and unhelpful. During her darkest days, she couldn't figure out which path of her many teachings to turn to and found that none of the practices she'd done stood her in good ...more
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes it takes a confusing life with many paths to bring one to a main road...a road made of all those little paths still running together, merging, yet retaining something of their own nature.

I so agreed with Mirabai's description of how one's anguish at the death of a child should be so noticeable to others, yet strangers (and even acquaintances & friends) just seem so blind to it. I remember with our son lying in ICU near death having to go grocery shopping for our family and wanting
Jeri Paull
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
This book ended up not being what I had hoped it was - it was far more a memoir of the author's unconventional life than it was a reflection on the loss of her daughter. To be fair - I don't believe it was falsely represented - I had read a quote of hers that resonated and I read the book on impulse I didn't care for the rambling, confusing, stream of consciousness writing style, but I can see it's appeal. I was caught in the beauty for a moment here and there; I think our upbringings were just ...more
Susan Ritz
Jan 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I found this book rather disturbing, though truthfully written. Made me wonder if parents on their own quest for spiritual awakening or seeking their own unconventional wisdom can bring up healthy children. This book at its heart is about love and loss, but it is also a chronicle of generational dysfunction that leads to tragedy. It did make me want to read some of Starr's translations of Christian mystics.
Laura Kisthardt
May 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
I purchased this book after attending a seminar led by Mirabai. I really enjoy the interfaith aspect of her spirituality and those were some of my favorite parts of the memoir. She has suffered a lot of personal loss. I liked reading about her own hippie-esque upbringing and the parallels with her own daughters.
Lynda Terry
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just finished my friend Mirabai Starr's incredibly moving memoir and I'm still too much in it to be able to write a review yet. So for now, I just urge anyone who sees these words to read it. It will change you.

Katharine Rudzitis
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Moving and emotional spiritual journey of the author through some really hard times. Poetic throughout.
Victoria Weinstein
May 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
This is a well-written book by someone whose maturation was deeply marked by the craven irresponsibility of the adults in her life.

I have real sympathy for Mirabai Starr and I'd really like to read some of her translations of the classics of Christian mysticism.
However -- and by no fault of hers -- her story felt to me like an interminable slog through a dreadful era and cultural context of spiritual excess and emotional emptiness.

I think Starr does a great job narrating her spiritual
Harry Allagree
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
My first exposure to the writing of Mirabai Starr was shortly after her translation of Teresa of Avila's Book of My Life appeared c. 2007. It was such a delightful & spiritual experience of the, far more readable than the translation I'd read previously. Not long ago, I finished her translation of Julian of Norwich's Showings, which I've read multiple times in at least two or three versions. My reaction was the same as with the translation of Teresa of Avila. I sense that she is a genuinely ...more
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is less about death and longing than it is about strength, love and the pure non-judgmental, unconditional, appreciation of life in all its names and forms. A coming-of-age story, from page one we are on a journey! Together we navigate the tricky unpredictabilities life presents to all of us. While thoroughly entertained by colorful trappings of a wonderfully eclectic community, I grew up right alongside my narrator. Solid effort all around!

The winter selection for our book club, I was
Mary Blye Kramer
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A page turner of a story. Starr has dealt with more than most of us can imagine during her life and she tells her story with brutal honesty. I feel deeply for her and respect the way she has dealt with so many tragedies in her life.

The strange thing is, the book didnt emotionally grip me and I cant figure out why. Maybe her gurus were off putting, telling her not to cry over the death of her daughter. Maybe all the talk of the afterlife made her seem detached from reality, even if she isnt. Or
Melani Moore
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith-and-such
I devoured this book. I loved to see this deep level of Mirabai, who I respect so much. I was thankful to see her as a parent and feel better about myself as a human parent. I am honoroed to see her humanness and better accept my own humanness. It was fascinating and scary and beautiful to see her counter-cultural childhood as we become more and more counter-cultural ourselves. I am thankful she shared the pretty and the painful. She is other-worldly holy to me, and I never know what that looks ...more
Susan Brochin
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was engaging from the first page. The writing is beautiful, the description of Jenny's last few days excruciating. The skill in which the story unraveled was so fine tuned, reading this almost resembled a brilliant novel. I was blessed to hear Mirabai read portions of this book at a small venue in Northern California and was hooked. The book was one of the best and most honest memoirs I have ever read.
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The timeline was confusing to me in places, the lifestyles lived and the characters who lived them got a bit confusing as well. It was however, interesting to be dropped into what essentially felt like a foreign way of life even though the story takes place in America. There were a few nuggets of wisdom that made it worth reading the book, but I couldn't bring myself to give it more than two stars.
Jane Clark
I really hesitate to write a review of this book because grief is so unique and specific an experience. Each reader will have to consider the value of Starr's contribution to movement through the grief journey for him/herself.
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very raw and honest. She was able to beautifully articulate some of the same experiences I had after the deaths of two of my children. For a better understanding of grieving I highly recommend this book.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Mirabai Starr loss of, brother (death) , mother, father (abandonment), never experiencing true family values created a chaotic life. Somewhat interesting book.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Probably better to read a paragraph at a time.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction, bbf
Beautiful and moving. Such a great read.
Liyana Silver
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Honest, deep, dear, and personal account of how a Dark Night of the Soul can indeed be a blessing. This book graced my life.
T Reads
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cpl
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
A gracefully written account of the loss of a child, as well as a lovely memoir about the author's hippie upbringing. She balances deep spiritual insights with grounded storytelling. (For Natalie Goldberg fans, she figures tangentially in the story,as she was Mirabai Starr's high school English teacher.)
Lindsay D Chrisler
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This was one of the best books I have ever read. Totally captivating and wise. An incredible balance of deep wisdom and "readability" (I read it in 3 days!). I was inspired, I cried, it was a much needed break and level up from self help books.
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Author of critically acclaimed new translations of the Spanish mystics, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, Mirabai Starr uses fresh, lyrical language to help make timeless wisdom teachings accessible to a contemporary circle of seekers. She is a professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies and a certified grief counselor.

Mirabai Starr writes creative non-fiction and contemporary

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