A Night with Elizabeth Gilbert & Rayya Elias + A Signed Copy of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’

I’m pretty sure that everyone knows who Elizabeth Gilbert is — the author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ Most people have either read the book, watched the movie, or both. I recently attended a reading and book signing at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which featured Elizabeth Gilbert and an author I had never heard of before, Rayya Elias. I grabbed a new copy of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ as soon as I walked in so I could get it signed by Gilbert. I didn’t purchase ‘Harley Loco’ because I had no idea who Rayya Elias was, and didn’t want to buy a book I might never read. That was a big mistake.

When Elizabeth stepped onto the stage and started to speak, I was in awe. She spoke so beautifully about her longtime friend, and about all the hard times that Rayya had gone through. Once Rayya stepped onto the stage, and so many people clapped and hooted with enthusiasm, I got goosebumps. Her being from Detroit, and being back at the Detroit Institute of Arts, really stirred the crowd in an emotional way. She did a couple of readings — one that made me laugh, one that made me cry, and one that made me realize that I was a complete idiot for not buying her book. Between readings she grabbed her acoustic guitar and played a few of her songs. To say that I was impressed by Rayya Elias is a gross understatement. I will definitely be picking up a copy of Harley Loco, and everyone else should too. For your convenience, I’ve linked the book cover to Amazon. 😀


“It is my honor to introduce these pages—so gravelly, so straggly, so hopeful, bright, and true.” —Elizabeth Gilbert

When she was seven, Rayya Elias and her family fled the political conflict in their native Syria, settling in Detroit. Bullied in school and caught between the world of her traditional family and her tough American classmates, she rebelled early.

Elias moved to New York City to become a musician and kept herself afloat with an uncommon talent for cutting hair. At the height of the punk movement, life on the Lower East Side was full of adventure, creative inspiration, and temptation. Eventually, Elias’s passionate affairs with lovers of both sexes went awry, her (more than) occasional drug use turned to addiction, and she found herself living on the streets—between her visits to jail.

This debut memoir charts four decades of a life lived in the moment, a path from harrowing loss and darkness to a place of peace and redemption. Elias’s wit and lack of self-pity in the face of her extreme highs and lows make Harley Loco a powerful read that’s sure to appeal to fans of Patti Smith, Augusten Burroughs, and Eleanor Henderson.

And here is what I have been promising you all for the last few days! A signed copy of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by the amazing Elizabeth Gilbert. Enter using the Rafflecopter below. The winner will be contacted by email after the contest ends, and will have 48 hours to claim this prize.

*This contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here I am with Rayya Elias and Elizabeth Gilbert after the book signing. I will never forget this night.


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Follower of Jesus, loving wife, homeschooling mom, blogger, author, gamer, and a lover of the culinary arts. Toni lives in Michigan with her husband and four children. If she's not writing or curled up with a book, you'll most likely find her playing with her kids, baking cupcakes, or killing zombies.
  • I agree it was a great night! I love this photo of you with both authors.

  • Liz

    Great contest! I saw the movie but not sure if I ever read the book.

  • What a a wonderful night! Wish I were in the US/Canada 🙂

  • Those who know me will tell you just how big of a fan I am of this book. A few days ago Elizabeth Gilbert favorited one of my tweets and it just about my day. I am not joking when I say that this book nearly changed my life.

    • *made my day*, oops. Too excited! haha

      • That is awesome! I love to hear things like this. 😀

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