Teenage years? Quarter-life crisis? Mid-life crisis? How about an all-life crisis? Everyone has been through a series of transformations in life, some more defining than others. The newly released book by Lydia Istomina, “From Misery to Mystery,” reveals her personal story as she deals with various aspects of forced and voluntary change of life. The book is a collection of short stories that cover Lydia’s life in Russia and Kansas City, dealing with transition, cultural stereotypes and their frequent absurdities, about being a woman, a single mom, a wife, a foreigner, a pastor, and, simply, a human being trying to find herself.
Here’s what readers have to say about Lydia’s latest work:
From Misery to Mystery weaves together comedy, romance, adventure, intrigue, tragedy and spiritual revelation into a rich tapestry. From KGB interrogations in Soviet Russia to speed dating in downtown Kansas City, each chapter builds upon complex themes of enduring love, self-discovery, and spiritual fulfillment. This single-mother, immigrant, musician, preacher, daughter, story-teller perceivers despite betrayal, personal tragedy and social injustice, and never loses hope and her child-like sense of wonder. With just the clothes on he back and limitless determination, she builds a foundation of faith, love and happiness to sustain herself, her children and the man she loves.
Lydia Istomina’s From Misery to Mystery is filled with short, easy-to-digest anecdotes that fit together to depict her story- the life of a mother, immigrant, and spiritual leader. Taken individually, each morsel is easily accessible and applicable to all of our lives. Childhood wonderment. Adolescent questioning. The growth and success, as well as loss and transformation, of adulthood. What is remarkable about Istomina is that she has not lost the connection to the unadulterated, sincere emotions that she lived in each of these anecdotes. The passage of time has not covered her memories in cob webs and the retelling of them has not become mixed with the revisionism of ex-post facto rationalization. This quality of Istomina as a story-teller makes the experience of reading From Misery to Mystery so rewarding, the rewards compounded by the growing understanding of her worldview, humor, and spirituality that one gets moving through each story.
I loved this book. I lost track of how many times I laughed and cried throughout these charming anecdotes drawn from her very colorful life in Russian and the US. Lydia has a unique gift to see life through a different set of eyes, and describe what she sees with a magical turn of a phrase.