I don't usually do book reviews, usually because I'm too busy talking about groundbreaking topics like babyonce and mustache parties. But I read a book this week that I had to tell you about. It's called "Every Bush Is Burning," by Brandon Clements.
I heard about it through Knox McCoy's Awesometown interview. I had some time to kill last week and remembered there was a free excerpt available. Since most people in Awesometown are in fact awesome, I decided to check it out.
And guys. I could not stop reading it.
When I finished reading the excerpt and found out the Kindle version was only $.99 (score 1 for the poor married person), I bought it immediately. It was literally the next thing I did. And I finished it in about four days. Which is fast for me. (Don't hate.)
Sometimes I come across a book or a blog post that I almost see my own heart in. The kind of writing I absolutely love but am simultaneously totally jealous of because I wish I'd written it. This is one of those times.
Here is the description from the book's website, to give you a quick synopsis before I tell you what I loved about it:
It’s about a rough-around-the-edges guy named Jack whose life is falling apart and who, despite having awful experiences with Christianity, makes an unlikely friendship with a crazy homeless guy who claims to be Jesus. It’s a story about forgiveness, satisfaction, and the sometimes tragically painful sins of the church.
Reasons I will gush to you about how great it is:
1) First and foremost, its honesty. For me, in a world full of masks and perfectly polished shoes, anything or anyone genuine stands out. This book isn't pretty. It's not tied up in a nice, neat bow. It's a little jagged, a little off-center---much like its main character---but it has heart. It's brave. It's intended to spark conversation, not give you all the answers. It doesn't really resolve (I had a feeling it wouldn't)--but sometimes life doesn't resolve.
Even though it's fiction, it feels real--because it is real. It's life. It's full of mistakes and pain, but also joy and laughter and Taking Back Sunday references (which made the emo highschooler in me happy). Even though the details may not have actually happened, the emotions, the story, the people--they're all real in their own way. And you can sense it. I'm willing to bet you will see some of your own experience reflected in it.
2) It's a compelling story. I'm a sucker for a good story, and this one definitely fits the bill. You almost immediately get a sense of Jack's character and become invested in him (even if you hate him--which you probably will at first). There's a sense of urgency and suspense throughout the whole book that compels you to keep going, chapter after chapter. It was hard to tear away from. It's relatable, but still unpredictable.
3) It is creative. The framework of this book is unique. The entire book is written from the perspective of the main character writing a letter to another person--someone he doesn't know, sitting near him in a coffee shop. It's conversational, and you can sense kindness in his voice as he writes. He uses flash backs within his story and jerks you back to the present (where he is actually writing the letter), but it's never confusing.
4) On a personal-preference note, it dealt with traumatic issues in a manner that evoked emotion, but it wasn't so graphic I couldn't handle it. I can't watch or read scenes that are super graphic--it will stay etched on my brain for weeks and chances are I will have nightmares. Not kidding. I can't help what I dream, ok? I have an active imagination. (It's a blessing and a curse.) I felt like this book described enough to get an understanding of the painful situation and challenge me to think about it without going into too much detail. I respected that (and was thankful for it).
5) It captures what I believe to be the heart of Christianity. It strips down all the ritual, all the misconceptions, all the arguments against it, and just speaks truth. It talks redemption, unconditional love, the heartbreaking effects of sin...I think it really gets to the center of who Jesus is without sacrificing the things that are hard to hear.
If you're interested in reading the book, check out the site to read a very generous free excerpt from Brandon. You won't regret it!
What's a great book you've read lately?