Review by Angela L. Eckhart
While promoting the movie Beloved in 1998, Oprah was interviewed by Gene Siskel. And the (now-late) film critic stumped her. That one question perplexed her so much that she spent the next 16 years contemplating “what I know for sure.”
In Oprah’s newest audiobook, What I Know For Sure (Macmillian Audio, 2014), she offers her in-depth response with clarity and certainty. Her reply to what she knows for sure specifically involves the things that matter in her life: joy, resilience, awe, connection, gratitude, and possibility. Oprah has decided that “when you know something, really know something, it tends to stand the test of time.”
These topics, or themes, each comprise a chapter and contain a story or vignettes. Her first chapter, about joy, consists of stories where she is aware of living in the moment and finding satisfaction in everything she does. She discusses treasures, like enjoying a perfect cup of masala chai tea at 4 p.m., and moments, like when her friends arranged for Snatum Kaur to sing at her 58th birthday. In her section on resilience, she argues that people must take responsibility of their own lives, including believing in yourself and giving yourself love. She motivates listeners/readers with: “there’s no question that changing the way you think about your situation is the key to improving it.”
While Oprah mentions in detail the positives of what she knows for sure, she falters in discussing the challenges she had faced. As a very young girl, she became pregnant, but the baby did not survive. A deeper conversation could have ensued without leaving the listener wondering, had she ever thought about having children later? Other questions listeners may be left with could entail wondering about some of the obstacles she overcame with her personal life and professional life. However, what she knows for sure definitely makes for a comforting, almost spiritual, guide to making the best out of one’s life.
Oprah’s positive outlook is enlightening and inspiring, and while it was endearing to hear her read aloud her own story, a copy of the book was quickly purchased to revisit some of the more quote-worthy portions. This audiobook, and especially the printed version of book, would make a suitable gift for anyone: a mother’s day gift, a high-school or college graduation gift, a gift for a grandparent or friend. The message is uplifting and meaningful, and hopefully will provide comfort to all who heed her words.
RATING: 5 out of 5 stars[boxer set=”eckhart”]