To Trust Again: Finding Hope After Loss

21 March 2018

To Trust Again: Finding Hope After Loss
Text and Illustration by Colleen Kehler
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$14.95 ISBN 9-781988-783062

It’s amazing, really, how many folks – upon learning that I’m a writer – assert that they have a great idea for a book they are going to write … someday. I know most of these books are never written, but they could be. And they could be published, too. Companies like Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing, in Regina, are turning the dream of publishing one’s own stories, whether fiction or nonfiction, into reality for scores of writers.

YNWP is a quality “hybrid” publisher. Its website explains that it offers: “an inexpensive means for storytellers to publish their works, producing books with a prairie flavour—either in creative source (author/illustrator) or in subject matter”. Established in 1998 by Heather Nickel, YNWP provides editing and production services for creators “whose stories might otherwise not be told”. Thanks to YNWP, scores of professionally produced books have now found their way into the world to delight and illuminate readers.

Saskatoon’s Colleen Kehler’s an ideal example of one who’s recognized the value of publishing with YNWP. The writer/artist is a longtime educator who now uses her art and experience to inspire others via her stories – like the recently published To Trust Again: Finding Hope After Loss – and motivational presentations.

Kehler’s encouraging and beautifully-illustrated book tells the tale of a girl who’s plagued by pain, shame and “crippling fears”. During an autumn walk she meets a fascinating bird who gives her a box that contains the letters T R U S T, which spell “a word she no longer believed in”. She doesn’t want the gift, as she’s convinced herself that life will never improve. The wise bird explains that it understands, and ensures the girl that “a divine power … lives deep within [her]”.

Seasons turn across the pages, and we witness the girl’s climb from a place of darkness and self-doubt to one of acceptance, thanks to her new companion, the bird, who shares “warmth, empathy, and deep compassion”. Now “Life was good. Life was enjoyable”. But winter arrives, and with it “a routine test” and “news no one wants to hear” – the girl’s heart breaks open. How can she trust now? I advise reading this story – which some may view as a spiritual parable – to learn the answer.

There’s a powerful message conveyed here, and it’s eminently enriched by original and thoughtful art. Kehler takes chances, ie: her protagonist, never named beyond “The girl,” is featured throughout as a faceless black figure, almost like a shadow, but there’s a vibrant energy to every page, thanks to the author/artist’s brilliant command of design via colour, variety, and scale. At she explains how her art journal – “I use mixed media such as stencils, stamps, ink, paint, paper collage and loads of glue” – transformed into To Trust Again.

Need motivation to tell your own story? Start here. Kehler’s book is commendable for its art, its positive and well-told message, and its high production value. It’s a superlative example of how you, too, can make your book dreams come true.


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