2016 nonfiction winner

Lori Jakiela | Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe

Lori JakielaAbout the author
Lori Jakiela is the author of three memoirs – Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe (Atticus 2015), The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious (C&R Press 2013), and Miss New York Has Everything (Hatchette/Grand Central 2006) – as well as a poetry collection, Spot the Terrorist! (Turning Point 2012) and several poetry chapbooks. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brevity, Hobart, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Chicago Tribune and elsewhere. Belief was a finalist for the 2016 CLMP Firecracker Awards and made Huffington Post’s list of 20 Notable Nonfiction Books of 2015.  Jakiela also received the 2015 City of Asylum Pittsburgh Prize, which sent her to Brussels, Belgium for a month-long residency at the Passa Porta Literary Center, an experience for which she will always be grateful. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize many times. She is a professor of creative and professional writing at The University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Chatham University, and co-directs the writers festival at the historic Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, the author Dave Newman, and their children. Her author website is http://lorijakiela.net.

About the book
Once, on a street in New York City, author Lori Jakiela stopped on a whim to visit a palm reader who told her, “We all have two lives and we carry the maps of those lives with us. Our left hands mark the lives we’re born with. Our right hands mark the lives we make for ourselves.”

Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe is a book about mapping those lives – the lives we are born with and the lives we are allowed – and lucky enough – to make for ourselves.

Belief is part adoption narrative and part meditation on family, motherhood, nature vs. nurture, and what it means to make our own authentic human connections. It extends the possibilities of creative nonfiction at a time when many people are talking about what exactly truth-in-memoir means. The book’s patchwork form mirrors the fragmented experience of being an adoptee confronting — and trying to heal — her roots.

Belief is the story of one woman’s search for her birth mother coupled with the parallel story of her own motherhood and her own re-making. It’s about what it means to be a mother, what it’s like to have two very different blood connections, and what it means to form a family.

Belief is about searching for roots and what that means, exactly. It’s about finding a balance between the families we’re born into and the ones we make ourselves.

Critics / Reviews
“Uniquely beautiful, wrenchingly sad, truly funny and honest… the book reads like a dream. It’s rare to find literary writing that is so accessible, so interested in engaging the reader.”  — Shannon Reed, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Belief is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe is a book about family and choices and mistakes and blood and belief and evidence and truth and being a parent and what it means to be someone’s child and communication and time and identity and gambling and death and paranoia and cruelty and connections and strangers and wounds and how stories save us. It’s a book that puts all the pieces of a life on the table and sifts through them carefully, beautifully, trying to make sense of what needs to be made sense of, not hiding from anything, not passing judgment. It’s honest and raw and real and says something true about being alive. I’m sad to be done with it. I hope you’ll read it.”  — William Boyle, The New Orleans Review

“A beautifully-crafted tapestry of image and insight that ultimately enables the author to string together a fragmented self.”  — Nancy McCabe, Ploughshares

“This story is more than an adoption story, an abandonment story, a grief story. It’s a story of moving on. In quiet, rhythmic lines arranged on the page like landscapes riddled with cliff edges, Jakiela shows us how to believe we are worth the jump, the leap we need to move forward. That is the ultimate truth in this book: to believe we are worth it. And accepting that is its own kind of truth, too. Maybe.”  — Ellee Prince, Brevity

Jakiela’s book is a masterfully crafted account of the complexity of childhood, the mystery of desire, and the meaning, finally, of care and forgiveness. … (BELIEF is)full of vivid stories that have much to teach us about how to create a compassionate account of our strange and confusing lives, of our imperfect powers of perception and understanding, and of the flawed and fragile people we love.”  — Vivian Wagner, Heavy Feather Review