Former Smithers resident, Loraine C. Hartley’s new book, My Delightfully Dysfunctional Family (And Me), has recently been published by Friesen Press and she is returning to the Bulkley Valley, books in hand, October 10 through 20 to visit with family and friends and sell a few books along the way.
The author said of her undertaking that, “the title got stuck inside my head and refused to go away, so I decided to write a book.”
“Many people who know me wanted to hear my story, and suggested that I put my experiences to words, and share them with the world, so I did.”
“The book begins in 1972 when my dad created a “blended family” by getting married a second time to a woman who had a daughter from a previous marriage. It ends when he died, at the ripe old age of 93.”
What the reader will find in between those years is the remarkable story of a woman with a thirst for adventure, an extremely determined and faithful spirit, trials and tribulations along with joys and triumphs and the dealings with a family that struggled with the “blended” concept well before the normalcy of the idea in our current time.
Hartley first came to Smithers in 1972. She sold all that she owned in Vancouver, bought a 175 Honda motorcycle and set out on an adventure that would keep bringing her back to Smithers, a place she would eventually call home.
Her book follows her journeys from Vancouver to Smithers to Alaska on to Inuvik and then Grand Prairie, Alberta and back to Smithers, with a great many places in between.
The book follows her through her marriages, the birth of her children, and times of great struggles, where she found a deep and guiding faith that continues with her today.
It keeps returning to her family, with whom she had a “complicated and emotionally charged” relationship all along.
Hartley’s book is fascinating in the fact that in her early 20s, time and again, she was willing to pack up and venture out, without necessarily knowing how she would make ends meet or where the road would ultimately lead.
Later, she still had the spirit to venture, but with her children alongside, she had a much clearer picture of where she wanted to be and the path she would need to take.
It was nursing where she eventually found her calling.
Ultimately, that would bring her back to the Bulkley Valley, where, as a registered nurse, she would continue and finish her 32-year career.
It was through nursing that Hartley saw people at both their best and worst and where she discovered we all have “similar challenges and victories, with times of disappointment and times of elation.”
It was also through nursing that the author learned a great deal about understanding and compassion even within her own family.
Her book is relatable. There are laugh-out-loud moments, moments when you wonder how she survived, moments you celebrate with her and moments you can feel her pain and struggle and when you realize her spirit and her faith have carried her through it all.
Hartley’s book keeps touching on the many ways life and families are complicated and messy, and don’t always turn out the way we expect. It doesn’t always include fairy tale endings.
It also shares the joys of building your own family guided by faith and love, inclusive of those related by birth or marriage, and the friends that you bring into the fold over the years.
It is enjoyable to read about long time Bulkley Valley residents who are included in this book. There are some real characters here, and Hartley describes them with warmth and acuity.
Her book will bring residents of Smithers and the surrounding areas a feeling of “home,” a sense of familiarity with the people and places she describes.
The Bulkley Valley is clearly a place Hartley loves, a place she still calls home, although she and her husband Bruce currently reside in Comox, B.C.
My Delightfully Dysfunctional Family (And Me) chronicles Hartley’s life from not only her memory, but from the many journals she has kept over the years.
They allow the reader a glimpse of what life in the north was, through the author’s eyes.
It is not a book that is just about family or faith, although it centres there.
It is a book about life and the twists and turns it takes. It is a book about love, courage and the undeterred resilience of spirit within its author.
You can purchase a copy of Loraine Hartley’s book when she is in Smithers by contacting her by phone at 250-643-2237
Copies of the book are available online at www.mydelightfullydysfunctionalfamily.com and in hardcover and paperback on Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com or Friesen Press.
Hartley will also be bringing books to be purchased locally at Mills Interior Stationery in Smithers.