I discovered Leeana Tankersley when she wrote a lovely post for the “Voice of Doubt” series on Jason Boyett’s O Me of Little Faith blog. Her memoir, Found Art, is about the spiritual lessons learned during her first year of marriage, which was spent in Bahrain while her Navy SEAL husband was deployed there in the early stages of the Iraq war.
Tankersley writes beautifully about how a girl from a conservative Christian background in the US finds her faith deepened as she is immersed in a foreign culture. She is inspired by the Muslim call to prayer and by the faith of Muslims she meets, and hours of unaccustomed solitude without recourse to her usual busyness and productivity force her to explore the contemplative side of her own spirituality — which also means confronting her own unhappiest memories and deepest pain.
I really enjoyed this book, and if I have a quibble with it, it’s that I wanted more. Not that I wanted the story to go on longer, necessarily, but that there were places where I thought subjects were lightly touched on that could have been explored in more depth. Tankersley has a real gift for writing about specific sensory details, yet there are places in the book (her description of her first quarrel with her husband comes to mind as an example) where she resorts to generalities instead of painting the scene vividly with detail. In this age of tell-all confessional memoirs, I understand a writer’s desire to keep certain aspects of her life private, but there were places in this where as a reader I felt a door had been closed, leaving me on the other side when I wanted to get closer to the experience.
Despite this (which may not even be a flaw, simply a matter of personal taste) I definitely recommend Found Art to any reader who enjoys memoirs with a spiritual flavour that also provide a glimpse into life in another culture.