Let me start off by saying I am in no way gaining anything financially, nor required to say anything positive or negative about this book.
This review is completely honest, as reviews should be!
The title and cover artwork gives a great preview into what this story, this testimony rather, is about. It’s complicated. Just as life is, relationships are, because of one thing: Sin. The main theme Sarah Mae presents is the concept that we, even as Christians, do not always do what we want to do, what we “ought” to do. We sin, and sin complicates everything.
Sarah Mae presents in this book a very raw, painful, retelling of her relationship with her mother, and particularly the decisions she made because of the dysfunction between herself and her mother. At pride of place, the climax of the story, is glory of God’s grace, redeeming her life, her mother’s life, and miraculously, their broken relationship. The restoration of their relationship is just beautiful, and truly a work of God.
Now is the part of the review that I talk about what I didn’t like.
- The timeline.
It was often all over the place, very confusing to follow what happened when. I’m a sequence and timeline person, I love being able to follow the dates of one event to the next, to the next, to the next. In this book, the drama and events were emphasized over the timing. I understand why, but order is important too, and this was lacking.
- Persons and Setting.
Some people’s names were changed, which is fine, but there was no consistency with what their changed names were, whose names were changed. It was very challenging to keep track of who all these people were, which is important in a testimony-type story. Some people were given descriptive names (like Mr. Baldman), which made them feel insignificant, when actually they were more significant than those given names.
- Lack of Scripture.
While Sarah Mae spent time to explain psychological terms, there was little mention of the Bible. She says God was central to the change, but so much is based on feeling and psychology, it was hard to find grounds for God having anything to do with it. Perhaps this is why she included so many prayers? There is a problem here too, however, because the prayers mention personal feelings and struggle (which is good), but still no follow up with what the Bible says in answer to these struggles.
Here was my biggest issue with the book.
Sin does happen, and God can use and redeem people, situations, and relationships despite our failings.
Sarah Mae did a great job pointing this out, but there is a deep lack of truth to replace the lies and sin that fill so much of the book. The message of the Gospel is not clearly stated until the last fourth of the book.
Perhaps when she was going through these experiences she did not think of scriptures that spoke to the heart of these struggles, but if this book is to grow and encourage the reader, then appropriate corresponding scriptures should be there, in my opinion.
The very few places where she quoted scripture were so rich and refreshing! I simply wish she had done that as much as she had dug up all the details of past sin.
So, to sum this all up…
I enjoyed the book, the redemption story of Sarah and her mother is truly beautiful. It did lack in many ways however, and I don’t think I will read it again, nor recommend it to a friend.
If you have a challenging familial relationship, you may be pulled to this book because of the similar struggles. I would warn against that for this reason:
The result of the relationship she presents is completely situation based, because of the lack of scripture references to tie in Sarah Mae’s experience to biblical truth it makes this a nice story, but hard to apply to or encourage one’s own heart.
Read with discernment, friends!
Soli Deo Gloria!