Threads of Hope, Knots of Pain is Kathryn Yaxley’s memoir of the difficult years when she suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) as a young adult. However, it’s more than just a memoir. Recently Kathryn journalled about this period of her life and prayed that God would show her his perspective. Consequently, at the end of each chapter, Kathryn has included an “Unravelling the Knots” section. These sections include her prayers and her understanding of God’s responses. They are by necessity, tinged with Kathryn’s personality and her understanding of God. Nevertheless, they do provide another way of looking at her memories from a much broader perspective. This new perspective brought much healing and wholeness into Kathryn’s life and will be helpful to others who have had painful experiences in their past.

There was little knowledge of CFS in the early ’80s when Kathryn became ill with what was initially thought to be a simple virus. Yet when Kathryn didn’t return to full health there was little understanding or support. It’s now known that CFS piggybacks upon other viruses. However, the lack of a proper diagnosis and the symptoms seeming so varied and random caused Kathryn a great deal of emotional and mental distress. To the extent that she felt a sense of shame about being unwell for so many years.

I enjoyed reading Kathryn’s story, though it was heavy going at times as I could feel Kathryn’s anguish. Even when the virus had left Kathryn’s body, there were years of rehabilitation as her body regained strength after the prolonged bed rest. Yet the book finishes in a positive place, with Kathryn about to embark on a new adventure.

Overall, it’s an insightful and honest account of a difficult period in Kathryn’s life.