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#EXTRAOrdinary: Ride the Waves and Share Your Story (Book Review)

#ExtraOrdinary Book Review


My copy of #ExtraOrdinary marked with sticky notes. Also, my friendship pins!

Book Details
Authors: Carleen Matts-Behrends and Lisa Shaffner Sohn
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Pages: 216
Category/Sub-Category: Women’s Biographies; Mid-Life Management; Parenting and Relationships

#EXTRAOrdinary is a book co-authored by two Gen-X women who grew up in Minnesota in the 1970s and 80s

“Oh, Starshine. We know…We know what you’re trying to pull off on four hours of sleep and a whole lot of dry shampoo.” – #EXTRAOrdinary
#EXTRAOrdinary is a book co-authored by two Gen-X women who grew up in Minnesota in the 1970s and 80s. Defying genre, it is, at its heart, a love letter to women in the middle ages of life. Through personal memoirs and photographs, guided journaling, and suggested steps for self-care, they’ve come together to offer a book that is sincere, funny, and incredibly original in its organization and design.

Water Skiing Metaphor

Using water-skiing as a metaphor, they offer readers four rules for living, which they support through stories about their own challenges, issues, and problems. Gentle commentary and practical advice help readers apply the rules.

1. Don’t panic.
2. If you fall, fall gracefully.
3. When you fall, let go of the rope.
4. Get up and try again.

Inspired Brown, Doyle, Gilbert

Inspired by the writings of Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle, and Elizabeth Gilbert, #EXTRAOrdinary is a playful book that is elevated by searing disclosures about family dysfunction; divorce following a husband’s coming out crisis; remarriage; more divorce; a mother’s Alzheimer’s, and a beloved older brother’s suicide. Emanating from these transparent passages is a grace you won’t soon forget.

The grace they’ve learned to give themselves. And the grace they extend to others.

The grace they guide you to give yourself. And, the grace, The Grace, that comes from God.

It is also so current in its stories, thoughts, and prescriptions, 100 years from now it will serve as a reliable reference on the life and times of Generation X women. Hint: They offer suggestions on essential oils.

God Loves You Unconditionally

Not a religious or spiritual memoir, per se, its core message is the most important one any of us can ever receive: God loves you unconditionally. Lisa and Carleen even begin the book with a blessing to readers that is as soft as the Minnesota sun over Strawberry Lake and Lake Vermillion where they skied as children and teens so long ago:

“You are here to make beautiful waves in this world. Shine your beautiful light, child.”

One of my favorite things about this book is the presentation of Carleen and Lisa’s parallel lives. They primarily bear witness to this through a generous and beautiful collection of pictures from Gen-X days of lore. For example, look at their prom pictures. They are practically wearing the same dress. Both are off-the-shoulder and have lots of lace and cascading ruffles. Also, they are both standing in front of incredibly similar gold curtains. It’s crazy, right? The pictures alone are such a gift. There is also a list of hilarious (and useful!) hashtags at the back of the book that is not to be missed.

Coupland’s Genertion X

Another kind of quirky coincidence I want to mention is that the format of this book is vaguely reminiscent of Douglas Coupland’s Generation X. #EXTRA Ordinary is an 8 x 10 paperback with a soft, flat sheen cover. It’s such a beautiful book.

Finally, #EXTRA Ordinary was no small undertaking. Multi-author books have their own set of challenges beyond the fact that it’s just not easy to write a book. There are so many layers beyond writing and organizing; collecting and designing. There is editing, publishing, and marketing. For example, along with the book they sent me to review, they sent me the sweetest Friendship pin in colors that complement the book. I’m totally putting it on my tennis shoe! They also sent me extras that I will be giving away on Facebook.

Anyway, writing a book is an exhausting undertaking, one that Carleen and Lisa have poured so much energy into — for you. This fact alone, along with their friendship and partnership, is, in a word, quite extraordinary.

These lovely authors are currently offering the book for $20 through July 15, to readers of  The Jennifer Chronicles. Click here to contact them and arrange for the discount.


“Unless you’ve lost someone to suicide, it’s impossible to get your head around how insidious it is and how it changes The Living forever. It’s a roiling, stifling smog of guilt and grief that permeates every corner of your being. It is an angry, poisonous, despair-filled loneliness. It is, in a word, unimaginable.

And when you are the youngest child in a family affected by suicide, your entire concept of safety, stability and protection disintegrates in one horrific instant. Suicide separates you from someone you love, but it also separates you from parts of yourself you spent the rest of your life trying to recover. Suicide sniffs out pure light and replaces it with a weak, green flickering fluorescent bulb that threatens to burn out at any moment.”

As you can see, I marked a lot of the pages in this book with sticky notes. Also, #FriendshipPins!


“I no longer feel sheepish about my failed marriages. Deep down, I have never really felt sheepish. I had zero options. But comments that have been made and the way society looks at someone with my track record…well, it’s just hurtful. (And why the hell is my life reduced to the phrase ‘track record’? I call bullsh*t!) For those who judge me? Do what you need to do. I pay you no mind. And when things happen to you that are out of your control, I will not judge you. I’ll never judge you. And if you need me, I will be here for you.”

From the Back Cover:

Carleen Matts-Behrends and Lisa Shaffner Sohn are socially minded friends, moms and educators from the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. They “orbited” each other for several years before realizing that they actually shared a brain and had lived parallel lives. For better and for worse, #EXTRAOrdinary is their first book, and they are mighty pleased about it.

#ExtraOrdinary book available on Amazon.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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