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An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life | [Mary Johnson]

An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life

An unforgettable spiritual autobiography about a search for meaning that begins alongside one of the great religious icons of our time and ends with a return to the secular world. At seventeen, Mary Johnson saw Mother Teresa’s face on the cover of Time and experienced her calling. Eighteen months later, she entered a convent in the South Bronx to begin her religious training. Not without difficulty, this bright, independent-minded Texas teenager eventually adapted to the sisters’ austere life of poverty and devotion, and in time became close to Mother Teresa herself.
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Publisher's Summary

An unforgettable spiritual autobiography about a search for meaning that begins alongside one of the great religious icons of our time and ends with a return to the secular world.

At seventeen, Mary Johnson saw Mother Teresa’s face on the cover of Time and experienced her calling. Eighteen months later, she entered a convent in the South Bronx to begin her religious training. Not without difficulty, this bright, independent-minded Texas teenager eventually adapted to the sisters’ austere life of poverty and devotion, and in time became close to Mother Teresa herself.

Still, beneath the white and blue sari beat the heart of an ordinary young woman facing the struggles we all share - the desire for love and connection, meaning and identity. During her twenty years with the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Donata, as she was known, grappled with her faith, her sexuality, the politics of the order, and her complicated relationship with Mother Teresa. Eventually, she left the church to find her own path - one that led to love and herself.

Provocative, profound, and emotionally charged, An Unquenchable Thirst presents a rare, privileged view of Mother Teresa. At the same time, it is a unique and magnificent memoir of self-discovery.

©2011 Mary Johnson (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“Readers... will find themselves transported into another world by this powerful, revealing memoir. An aspirant to the Missionaries of Charity at age 19, the author spent twenty years living a life both extraordinarily simple and heart-wrenchingly complex. Johnson skillfully demonstrates this juxtaposition through her writing - mundane events, such as gathering eggs or learning to play the piano, often have tragic or miraculous implications... [Johnson’s] memoir is exceptional.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Johnson brings readers close to her story, showing her triumphs and temptations, limning characters as compelling as those in any novel.... Her mesmerizing account of trying to orbit the sun that was Mother Teresa vividly captures a life in turmoil.” (Booklist)

“Eloquent and moving... an extraordinary testament to the enduring power of love - beyond faith and dogma. It reminds us of why we are here: to love and live fully, to be curious about all things, and to live a compassionate - and passionate - authentic life.” (Mira Bartók, author of The Memory Palace)

What Members Say

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4.1 (20 )
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  •  
    Magpie USA 03-26-13
    Magpie USA 03-26-13 Member Since 2007

    You'll find me chattering and chasing shiny things.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A light reader enjoys the deep"

    I admit it: I’m a scifi, fantasy, YA kinda reader/listener. I like light reading; “The Help” is the deepest book I’d gotten into for a loooong time before this one. So why did I pick this up? A woman I know is Mary Johnson’s sister, and she mentioned it, so I read the synopsis and thought “Why not?”
    Never did I think a book this deep could “read” so easily. It was marvelous to have the author do the reading as well. She did most every accent brilliantly and I could see her “characters” through the voices she used. Mary Johnson’s story is fascinating, even if it’s difficult because of it's deeply personal nature. There were times I cringed for her, but her style of writing made is so clear and lovely, I couldn't stop listening. I wanted to know what she would choose to do next.
    The thing that was toughest for me was the feeling that in the early years of Mary’s involvement with the MC’s had too many parallels to an emotionally abusive relationship. Add to that the king rat tangle of Mother Teresa’s focus on suffering and slavish devotion to dogma, the inability of many sisters to truly lead rather than intimidate, and a lack of methods for proper communication within the order and you can't help but see what hinders a group that does so much good, yet could be so much more not only for the poor, but for the sisters themselves.
    To balance that, for all Ms. Johnson does to reveal the faults and flaws of the Missionaries of Charity, her obvious love for the good of it shines through. She shows clearly those sisters and Priests who are amazingly real human beings that manage to transcend the limitations and reveal the love that is Mother Teresa's most basic message for the order.
    Mary Johnson takes us down a rough road with such integrity, intellect, and thoughtfulness; you can’t help but want to take this trip with her.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meryl H. Ruth CUMBERLAND CENTER, MAINE, US 02-11-12
    Meryl H. Ruth CUMBERLAND CENTER, MAINE, US 02-11-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Discipline, honesty, bravery"

    It takes discipline to get through this book and story. There are so many details to the very disciplined way of life that being an MC (under Mother Theresa) insisted upon. It was not an easy listen but I was compelled by Ms. Johnson's story and glad to have listened to the entire three parts. I kept wanting to know if Ms. Johnson found peace after all.

    Ms. Johnson seemed very honest and sincere as she described what life was like as a Missionary of Charity. She seemed honest in her struggle to understand her role in the missionary and ultimately her struggles to figure out what was best for her.

    Ms. Johnson certainly examined another side to who was Mother Theresa, a side most of us have never had a glimpse into. Very fascinating.

    As someone curious and always interested in spirituality and wanting to live an authentic life, I was moved by Ms. Johnson's constant questions, search and hunger for knowledge and most importantly her bravery in sharing her humanness.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Charlottesville, VA, United States 10-05-11
    Alan Charlottesville, VA, United States 10-05-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding"

    This is one of the best audio books that I’ve listened to. The author has a wonderful gift for writing. The scenes described, and the thoughts and emotions felt, come through very clearly. Her narration is terrific. Great accents, voice modulations and even a couple of short verses from songs. A professional actress could not have done better.
    The story of her spiritual journey is fascinating and inspiring, and is a worthwhile read/listen. I’ve been a volunteer and a Co-Worker with the sisters and the brothers for over 25 years in several cities in the US, and for almost a year with them in India. I was present at the gathering described in the epilogue of the book at St. Vincent’s in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. In addition to working with the MC’s, I’ve also spent several years at ashrams and monasteries in the US. I now work as a nurse.
    I’ve found that spiritual organizations are filled with regular people who are just as prone to human weaknesses and as gifted with human greatness as anyone else. The honesty of this book was so very refreshing, and I think that it‘s great that it was written. In the end, it’s important to have fidelity to God as is understood by the individual, and not to the doctrine. There is no “one size fits all” in the spiritual life.
    I think that this book will be of great help to many people who have had confusing and contradictory experiences as they have gone on their own life journeys, whether they were inside spiritual communities or not.
    I have the utmost respect and admiration for the MCs, and this book did nothing to diminish those feelings. They do outstanding work under very difficult circumstances. They are heroes to me. It’s good to know that they are human, also, just like us.
    Thanks to the author for writing this book, and for all that she’s done in her life.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Babson Park, FL, United States 02-23-14
    Debbie Babson Park, FL, United States 02-23-14 Member Since 2011

    I love to read and listen to books.

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    "Awesome book."
    Would you consider the audio edition of An Unquenchable Thirst to be better than the print version?

    Yes, but I enjoy listening to books.


    What other book might you compare An Unquenchable Thirst to and why?

    The Help. These books keep you engrossed.


    Have you listened to any of Mary Johnson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Haven't listed to others, but intend to,


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Yes, the times the nuns were so hateful to Sister Donata.


    Any additional comments?

    A++

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisbeth Louisville, KY, United States 02-09-14
    Lisbeth Louisville, KY, United States 02-09-14 Member Since 2011

    Ce n'est pas grave!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Real Eyeopener"

    I purchased the audio version of this book and found it to be a very fair representation of a world that relatively few people are familiar with. It is an interesting topic and one of the rare books in which the narrator being the author enhanced the listening experience. For some reason that is not often a successful pairing, but Mary Johnson pulled it off well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annette United States 02-04-14
    Annette United States 02-04-14
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    "Disappointed in the graphic nun on nun action"
    Would you try another book from Mary Johnson and/or Mary Johnson?

    No! I was not impressed with her deceptive nature.


    What was most disappointing about Mary Johnson’s story?

    I was interested in a story that followed Mother Theresa; I was not interested a lesbian romance novel. I thought I was reading a book that would not cross my standards of chastity. It wasn't just suggestive it was descriptive.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from An Unquenchable Thirst?

    I would take out the need to titillate readers. If you want to head that direction write porn and label it as porn.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lydia Waco, TX, United States 08-29-13
    Lydia Waco, TX, United States 08-29-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Misleading"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Looking at the title you expect the book to be more about Mother Teresa. There's too little of her in the content of the book. It's about one of the other nuns and the details of her life. Occasionally the details involve Mother Teresa but much less than what you'd expect from the title. So the title is most misleading.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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