This book was recommended to me by a book group I attended to speak about my book A Demon Awaits. I had not read this book prior to writing mine, butThis book was recommended to me by a book group I attended to speak about my book A Demon Awaits. I had not read this book prior to writing mine, but I was very surprised to find that the premise of our books (a man struggling to heal his relationship with God) was identical. Before I continue I’d like to share a bit of my bias because one’s perspective will vastly affect the enjoyment of this book. I’m staunchly conservative, religiously, politically and economically. I’m also a writer and I choose NEVER to review a book that I don’t find to be very strong. Someone with a more liberal viewpoint will appreciate this book even more than I did.
This book reaches out to a generation of people losing touch with God and encourages them to reach for him. While churches are rocked by scandal and divided over the issue of homosexuality and its place in God’s eyes, church attendance diminishes. This book takes the subject of our relationship with God and urges us to mend our relationship with him. I cannot imagine a more important subject for a book and I applaud the author for writing a book that has reached so many. Not only is this book popular, but it puts the conversation with God center stage and this conversation carries the majority of the book. (Young chooses not to address the issue of homosexuality and the church.)
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone.
There is a tremendous amount of the author’s philosophy delivered in this book that I will react to through the remainder of this review.
Characterization of God Young creates a character who is angry at God over the death of his daughter. In the end the character takes a difficult journey toward reconciliation. The subject matter will touch millions of people. Young’s characterization of God was a surprising choice. When I wrote A Demon Awaits, I thought a long time about how God should be portrayed in fiction and I struggled with a way to make him appear in a way that not only moved the story, but was also reverent. We both used some of the same devices to bring God to the page, but our focus was vastly different. Young’s characterization offended me as irreverent and disrespectful at times. I felt uncomfortable in the early part of the book and this connected me with Mack who was feeling much the same.
The Church Young assaults the church as something created by man that God has no interest in. I found this highly irresponsible. I agree that the earthly church is created by and run by man and as such is fallible. Still, my experience with church leaders has been one of utter joy, learning and spiritual growth. To suggest that these fine people could be replaced by blindly reaching out to God without a guide of any sort sounded illogical to me. Young also suggest that we should disregard the Ten Commandments as an unattainable ideal. The Ten Commandments played a more guiding role in my book.
Tragedy and Healing Much of the book focuses on the tragedy Mack struggles with in his life. This element of the story was superbly done and I know that this element of the book has touched people who have lost loved ones and especially some who are terminally ill. The power of this story will bring peace into many lives because this topic is tackled head-on by a believable character. The author discusses our independence and God’s willingness to intercede in our lives to a great extent. This facet of the story will be a great healer to many and is one of the strongest reasons to recommend this book.
Crime & Responsibility Young skirts the issue of crime and criminals somewhat. God says that he loves his children all equally no matter what they have done and this is shown in a very strong scene in the text. This one scene was probably the best of the entire work. Counter to this, or maybe because of the focus, Young suggests that responsibility is a man-made construction that has no use in God’s eyes. The idea that we could all live together in peace and harmony sounds lovely, but ignores the fact that we live in a world with lots of “broken” souls. The Puritans were clear about responsibility and made sure that able-bodied people worked or starved. We have strayed very far from the principle of responsibility and I thought it was highly irresponsible of the author to suggest that we don’t need to act responsibly. I personally think that if people strived and were honest about what they were capable of and what they could contribute to our society, then we could take much better care of those who are not able to work to support themselves.
There is much I disagree with in his approach, but I commend the author on a book that is both popular and important. ...more
I really enjoyed this book and the author's focus on the finer points of writing. She references dozens of classic works and discusses word choice, seI really enjoyed this book and the author's focus on the finer points of writing. She references dozens of classic works and discusses word choice, sentences, paragraph structure, voice and many other fundamentals of writing fiction.
Her comments are geared to literary writers and often I felt insulted (as a lowly thriller writer). At one point she says, "Opening a mass-market thriller at random," and she quotes a horrible passage that I didn't recognize. She's telling us that mass-market thriller writers are lousy writers. I felt like a student in one of her fiction classes.
I would recommend this book for serious writers and those who love classic literature, though readers may find this book very dry.