So I’ve enrolled in this book review program through BookLookBloggers.com. Basically, you get a free book in the mail and must write a review about it before getting another free book. It’s a great way to grow a collection of books… in theory. In reality, though, I received my first book, “I Don’t Want to Wait Anymore” by Grace Thornton, at the beginning of May and have been trudging through it, slowly, night after night, trying to finish it so I can move on to the collection of other books I’ve got open on my bedside table.
With that glowing opening, you can probably surmise what my overall thoughts were on this book. Now, let me say the positive things, because there are definitely a few that need mentioning and which the author has rightfully earned. Thornton is a first-time author I’m assuming (based on a cursory Google search), but she writes as if she’s a seasoned writer. There is this eloquence and flow in her writing that I truly enjoyed. You can tell she crafts her sentences with great care. I applaud her for this. I also appreciate the sincerity in this book. I get the feeling she writes from her heart, which is always the feeling you want to get when you take on a memoir, so good stuff here.
Okey dokey, on to a few critiques. So first of all, from a purely practical surface level, I was confused what this book was going for. The content of the writing screamed “deep, introspective memoir” but the book itself screamed, “cheesy Hallmark coffee table book” – full of pulled quotes, notes pages, plasticy pages, and a lovely ribbon to serve as a bookmark (which incidentally, I did use, I guess, so I can’t completely scoff at that). But seriously, I felt the credibility of the content was undermined by the quality–albeit very high quality–of the book and its presentation itself. Blech.
The writing style, as I said above, was great, but the overall picture that was being painted in this book was quite frankly difficult to ascertain. I wasn’t actually sure of the point of a lot of the writing – the author wrote her heart out, and it was eloquent and beautiful, but what happens when you write out your heart is that you can fail to arrive at a solid point, or direction, or find any clarity of thought. I should know – read any of my heart-on-my-sleeve blog posts and you’ll come to the same conclusion ;)
And then there’s the content. Oy. Now, in critiquing the content, I don’t want to sound like I’ve “arrived” in my faith so I can look back and scoff at where she’s at; however, this is the very vibe that I get from Thornton: “Follow these 4 steps and you too can have that incredible peace and experience this profoundly deep love of God that I now enjoy.” In my experience, a prescriptive faith isn’t a sustainable method of relating to God. In other words, what worked for Thornton in how she came to peace with the life she was moving toward won’t necessarily work for everyone. And so because of this, I just don’t think Thornton’s saying much of substance in this book. And normally I’d be fine with this. You wrote this as a form of catharsis, of explaining your own reality and maturity of faith as a means of personal clarity? That’s cool.” But by nature of publishing this book, and marketing it, etc. what’s implied is this idea that if it works for me, it will work for you. And I think that’s actually dangerous for one’s faith, at least in this instance. I wouldn’t be able to in good conscience recommend this book to those in my life who have asked the same existential questions, who have been wrestling with God regarding the same struggles and confusion about life’s direction, for fear of them following the path that Thornton took, only to be completely let down in the end because they couldn’t muster up the kind of faith Thornton demonstrated… or they couldn’t understand the scriptures the way she confessed to… or their prayer life simply couldn’t deepen the way that Thornton’s did. They’d be far worse off than they started I think.
I need to end this review so let me close by saying that I don’t mean to be so harsh toward Thornton. I realize this is a labour of love and that she no doubt put everything she had into this. It’s far better than anything I could pull off, lemme tell you. Still, I think this book presents a simplified means of attaining faith and that, to me, is just not good for the Church overall.