Review: You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith

Review by Jules Galgan

In case you are in need of a big hug, “You Could Make This Place Beautiful” has you covered…

If you’ve ever sat with your best friend in a parked car while they told you about their problems, heartaches, and hilarious moments and thought to yourself, “This is what living is for”, then you’re sure to love Maggie Smith’s memoir, “You Could Make This Place Beautiful”. 

In her memoir, Smith, Author of “Keep Moving”, describes the night that she found a postcard in her husband’s laptop bag… addressed to another woman. Upon looking through his notebook she found that he had written an account of his time with the other woman. She says, “I wanted what I read there… to be notes for a novel or a play he was working on. But I knew these weren’t characters. They were people. I knew this wasn’t fiction. It was his life. My life. Ours.” So what do you do when you find out that your husband has seamlessly imploded your marriage? 

In this poignant book of poems, stories, and inner monologues, Maggie Smith draws the reader in and begs the question, “Who are you when everything you have built falls apart?” The empathy that I felt while reading this book is unparalleled. Her words create such a vibrant picture of her own healing journey that you as the reader find it nearly impossible to separate it from your own traumas and heartbreaks. More than once I thought, “She must be writing my feelings and experiences, not hers!” With a focus on healing, experiencing, and growing, she paints a picture of healing that anyone can relate to. 

The most beautiful aspect of this book is that Maggie Smith does not put focus on the details of what happened, both in the midst of her divorce, the process of raising her children as a newly single mom, or even what led up to the divorce. Instead, she focuses on the beauty of finding yourself again once a traumatic event strips you of all of the distractions and comforts of complacency. 

A story of overcoming and coming back to who you are, “You Could Make This Place Beautiful” will bring tears to your eyes and inspiration to your journey. 

“I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.” -Emily Dickenson