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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
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Critic Reviews

“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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Magpie on 03-26-13

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.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful


By Meryl on 02-11-12

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.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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