When Cheryl Strayed took on the "Dear Sugar" online advice column at the online literary site, The Rumpus, readers weren't prepared for her anti-Ann Landers style of advice that exposed her flaws and shortcomings.
But they loved her anyway.
And acceptance is a common thread in Sugar's columns, which were collected in the New York Times bestselling book, "Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar."
Sugar is the anonymous pseudonym of Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir, "Wild" - and Sugar doesn't need to be sweet for you to like her.
Readers ask for Sugar's advice on dealing with some of life's toughest blows: miscarriage, infidelity, drug abuse, abusive marriages, bereavement and more.
What makes Strayed's advice stand out is how she blends it with and empathetic and sympathetic ear. She listens because she wants to, and she agonizes with you, dear reader.
Strayed doesn't judge her readers by their questions. She instead uses them to describe a part of her life so the reader knows that she understands.
Her advice may not be what the reader hoped or wanted to hear, but that's mostly because those who seek her advice already know the answer to the question being asked. Strayed also has a knack of answering questions not asked, the ones that lie just below the surface.
Strayed doesn't sugar-coat her advice to her readers, either. She believes in hard work, and just doing it.
But profanity aside - and the book is full of profanity - here's a gem about life in general: "Don't lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don't have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write ... Your book has a birthday. You don't know what it is yet."
Perhaps her best advice is to the woman in a loveless relationship who is contemplating leaving even though she and her husband get along and don't fight: "Wanting to leave is enough."
Although Strayed writes as if she's a long-lost friend from your childhood telling you like it is, this is not an easy or quick read.
The writing is well done, but the topics are very heavy and I needed to take a break after each column, to soak it in and walk away from it.
Unlike Dear Annie, Strayed's advice is not quick and easy. Her columns are long, sometimes thousands of words, and full of heart-breaking personal revelations about herself.
But above all else, Strayed - and Sugar - wants you to be a better person. "I suggest you forget about forgiveness for now and strive for acceptance instead ... Acceptance asks only that you embrace what's true."
The most heart-breaking advice was what Strayed told the mother who lost a child too early. "It is impossible for you to go on as you were before, so you must go on as you never have."
And really, isn't that good advice for all of us?
For those who are wondering if the "Dear Sugar" column is coming back to The Rumpus, according to the website, she will continue as time allows and in the meantime you can follow Sugar on Facebook and Twitter.