Book Review: She Appears! Encounters with Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion

She Appears! Encounters with Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion by Sandy Boucher, Published by Goddess Ink (2015)

(I won a copy of this book in a giveaway, but not on condition of providing a review)

Syren with She Appears!

Kwan Yin is one the Goddesses that moves in and out of my life, and She did appear to me through this book at a time when I needed Her. She Appears! is a treasure, a cool sip of water, a balm for the weary heart. Filled with poems and stories from a diverse set of authors, practitioners, devotees, and “average” people who encountered Kwan Yin’s grace, it is very likely you will find something within this book to personally connect with. And the artwork! The artwork is spectacular, with traditional and non-traditional representations of Her. The artwork itself could fill its own book – in fact my only regret is that this was not published as a high quality art book, for it certainly could be. I imagine doing so would make the book prohibitively expensive, and at a price of $28.95, it is already on the high end of what I would normally pay.

Aesthetically, the book is lovely. The size of it, an interesting 8.5″ x 8.5″, makes it feel unique from other books and frames the content well without being too cumbersome to read while relaxing. The 30 pieces of artwork are sprinkled appropriately through the nearly 200 pages, and the color theme complements the material well. The only thing I wasn’t in love with was the font. Each story is given an introduction by the editor, and then the story itself is in italics, except for the stories written by the editor which are in standard font. I found that to be a bit odd and it took some getting used to when reading the book. I think it distracts from the content a bit, but once I adjusted to the long stretches of italicized font it did help me to hear the stories as stories while reading.

The book is eight topical chapters associated with experiences of Kwan Yin. They are:

Hearing the cries of the world
Alive in nature
When illness strikes
Mothers and daughters
Visitations/Gradual awakenings
Kwan Yin as activist
Death and grieving
Final words

The content is brilliant and beautiful, with a variety of voices represented from Buddhist, Goddess, and non-religious communities. The diversity of stories still express a common theme: the love, compassion, and autonomy of this powerful Goddess. She isn’t a Goddess to be easily dismissed.

My favorite chapters were probably Visitations/Gradual Awakenings and Kwan Yin as Activist. There is a powerful prayer in Kwan Yin as Activist: “Kwan Yin’s Prayer for the Abuser” (author unknown). I struggled with this one; as I work with victims of abuse it is sometimes very hard for me to have compassion for the abuser. It is also sometimes very hard for me to hold on to compassion in my activism. Compassion can be expressed in many ways, and that is something that Kwan Yin and this book teaches us.

She Appears! Encounters with Kwan Yin is a book that I will be picking up regularly, flipping through to gaze at the art and read a story, whenever I need support and to remind myself of the many manifestations of compassion in our world. Purchase your copy from the incredible women over at Goddess Ink.