(a)lyss(a)'s Reviews > Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith

Assimilate or Go Home by D.L. Mayfield
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it was ok

"I am finding that I am nostalgic for something that never even happened."

My only disclaimer for this review is I stumbled onto an uncorrected proof in a Little Free Library and aside from the quote above I'm not sure how different the version I read is from what was actually published.

This book captivated me because I was so horrified I couldn't put it down. The writing its self isn't terrible but the story is full of self-righteousness, callousness, and utterly unreal privilege. While the author acknowledges that she comes from a position of privilege, over and over again she talks about how good she had it and how she had no idea how hard it was for other people. And we're not just talking about when she's young and she sets out to convert new refugees when they're vulnerable and acclimating, but even when as an experiment she and her husband move into low income housing so they can feel good about themselves for becoming "a poor". I won't quote some of the passages I found most offensive in the book since I have no idea if they made it into the published version, but there is a clear bias that despite how often the author says she learned her lesson and saw Jesus in the refugees she set out to help she continues to think she is better than the people she encounters and it's so hard that they don't do what she wants them to do.

There's no clear narrative in the book. There's stories about how different life is for a non-native English speaking refugee and then the author helps some how and you think she's learned her lesson that treating people like people because they're other human beings and not because you think it's your job to convert them but instead the next chapter starts over and the book ends with unrelated anecdotes so it seems like the author learned nothing. There's also stories about when churches came into her neighborhood for short term projects and then left it made her feel embarrassed and belittled...but instead of learning from that she seems to defend how the work she was doing was different even though she seems to treat the families she works with the same way.

I was really hoping for more of a character arc or a story. There are interesting insights where the author realizes that wow, refugees have had hard lives and they have their own religious beliefs and they are actually people that deserve respect, but it doesn't seem to tie into her overall narrative of her work. It's a confusing and frankly baffling collection of anecdotes and stream-of-consciousness thoughts.

Perhaps the published version has more direction and less bias language but overall I expected more from this story.

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Reading Progress

May 5, 2016 – Shelved
May 5, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
October 9, 2017 – Started Reading
October 12, 2017 – Finished Reading

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