Fish Out of Water by Eric Metaxas–Book Review

Fish Out of Water: A Search for the Meaning of Life by [Eric Metaxas]

Eric Metaxas is known to many for his biographies of Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In this new memoir, he turns to his own life for material. Starting at a young age, Eric feels like a “fish out of water” — he never quite belongs. His mother is German and his father is Greek — so he does not completely fit into either community, and as the son of immigrants he never feels entirely “American” either. He skips a grade early in elementary school, becoming for years the smallest boy in his class. He is the working class boy at an elite college (Yale) and finally an evangelical Christian who is misunderstood by both his Greek Orthodox family and his intellectual friends.

Metaxas writes well and with great humor and candor. However, I have to admit I was often bored with the details of his childhood and family history. After 100 pages, I was close to giving up, because I still hadn’t gotten to what for me was the “good” part — his conversion and spiritual life. In fact, there isn’t much about that until the last few chapters. He admits that “The rest of the story–and the many stories–of what happened to me after my dream in 1988 (his conversion experience)–must be told in another book.” I’m assuming there will be another book, and I’ll probably enjoy that one much more.

There are some interesting observations about our secular society and the things that we really worship. In that respect, it reminded me of another book I read recently — You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith–Book Review I also admired the author’s openness and ability to appreciate different kinds of people, even those with whom he disagreed strongly– maybe that was because he often felt different and unaccepted himself.

VERDICT: 3 STARS. In his own words, this book is “only the first part of my story, ending with my crossing the starting line of my life with God.” I’m looking forward to the next installment.

For more spiritual memoirs see:

Where the Light Fell by Philip Yancey–Book Review

Nothing is Wasted by Lore Cottone–Book Review

Suffer Strong by Katherine & Jay Wolf–Book Review