Janine Reid is a self-described control freak — at least until her life begins to spiral out of control. Her son, Mason, is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Although it is slow growing, he eventually needs surgery, and then months of rehab learning to talk and walk again. Even after his recovery, he continues to have problems with his short term memory. Later Janine requires cancer surgery of her own — a double mastectomy.
These devastating health issues have an effect on the rest of the family, putting pressure on Janine’s marriage and relationships with her other two children. She slowly learns to let go of her expectation that she can be a perfect wife and mother, or that by being “good” she can guarantee the safety of her family members.
The book is well written and easy to read. Any parent will sympathize with Janine’s feelings and dilemmas. However, for me, at least, her spiritual struggles seem a bit distant. She sometimes refers to God as a “higher power” (probably because she is the child of an alcoholic) and there are few, if any references to Jesus or the Bible. She does speak about the mystery of God’s ways, and our inability to ever completely understand them — instead we must learn to accept and experience grace whenever it is offered. However, it’s more a book about navigating serious health issues than growing spiritually.
VERDICT: 3 STARS. It will resonate with anyone going through difficult health issues.
For other spiritual memoirs see these posts:
Tables in the Wilderness by Preston Yancey–Book Review
Suffer Strong by Katherine & Jay Wolf–Book Review
The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken–Book Review
Ian Cron is an Episcopal priest, speaker and author. I previously reviewed his book Chasing Francis (Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron–Book Review). I liked that book so much, I searched to see what else he had written. He calls this book, “a memoir of sorts.” It’s not just a book about faith, but about God and faith in the midst of all of our life and our suffering. In it, he recounts the story of his life with an alcoholic father, his painful adolescence, and his own experiences as a dad.
Ian’s dad was an enigma. He was often absent, and sometimes abusive. His alcoholism led to instability in the life of the family. Later Ian discovered that his father had worked for years for the CIA under the “cover” of other professions. Although Ian prayed for his father to change, that never happened. The rejection he experienced led to bitter feelings toward his father, and toward God. Still amidst the suffering were moments of grace, and eventually they led him home to the church. He was able to forgive his father, although they were never completely reconciled.
This book will make you laugh and cry. He tells his story with honesty and humor. It will make you think about your own story with gratitude as you remember those experiences of God’s grace and presence that have marked your journey.
VERDICT: 5 STARS. An easy and enjoyable read.
For other memoirs see:
Phosphorescence by Julia Baird–Book Review
In My Grandmother’s House by Yolanda Pierce–Book Review
The Night Lake by Liz Tichenor–Book Review
“It’s complicated.” How often have you said this, or heard it said about a relationship? Sarah Mae leads us through the story of her complicated relationship with an alcoholic mother. Sarah (with God’s help) learns to set boundaries, grieve, lower her expectations and eventually understand and forgive the mother who often hurt her. In the end, she understands that her mother was also a child who was broken by bad relationships with others in her life. Interspersed with Sarah’s perspective are letters and journal entries written by her mom.
A useful addendum includes a number of resources with those dealing with similar issues:
- What Do I Do Now?
- For When You Think It’s All Impossible
- Six Ways to Forgive
- How To Work through Your Core Lies
This book will be helpful to anyone struggling with issues of alcoholism, forgiveness, abortion and dysfunctional family relationships.
VERDICT: 5 stars. This book was not only an interesting read, it offers concrete suggestions and help for others in difficult relationships
If you would like to purchase this book or learn more follow the link below:
The Complicated Heart
The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255