The Road To Becoming (A Review)



I feel like I am not up on Christian pop culture.

This doesn't really bother me, most of the time, and I think it can actually be an advantage when it comes to reviewing current Christian books.  My mind is not already made up about the author, and my opinion is not biased by previous fandom.

I recently read The Road To Becoming by Jenny Simmons, who was a member of the band Addison Road.  I had heard of Addison Road before, but I can't tell you any of their songs (though I imagine I have heard some on the radio).  I just picked up the book because the back cover description sounded interesting.




Positives

The Road To Becoming is Simmons account of the breaking up of her band, and the subsequent journey she has traveled to become okay with an unknown future.  I thought she had a lot of thoughts in this book that might be encouraging to someone who is finding themselves on an unfamiliar road.  Her writing is very engaging - she is a great storyteller.  I love it when authors don't just tell a story but paint a picture, one that includes all five senses, and I think Simmons has a talent for that.  The writing itself was enjoyable to read, and generally encouraging.

Sort Of Negatives

I am not going to say straight-up negatives, because overall I thought this book was alright.  But to me, the ending was too inconclusive.  On the one hand that is real-life, but on the other hand it was a bit disappointing.  Yes, real life doesn't always tie up in neat little bows, but I kind of feel like books should.

I was confused on the purpose of the book.  Is it supposed to be on Christian Living, or is it a memoir?  I wasn't really expecting a memoir, but that's the category into which I would put this book.  Sometimes I think publishers need to stamp "memoir" on the side of the book so I know what I am getting into, or maybe I just need to read between the lines of the back cover description a little more.  I think if I was a big Addison Road fan before reading this book, I'd find it much more interesting.  I was expecting less memoir, more practical advice, so it threw me for a loop.

My Opinion

I have mixed feelings. 

The writing was engaging and overall enjoyable to read, but that said, after finishing the book it wasn't my favorite.

Keep in mind that I was reading this at nine months pregnant, when I am more apt to be irritable in general, but in some ways her style of communicating rubbed me the wrong way.  Even when I am not pregnant, using the words "freaking" or "frigging" as adjectives is a pet peeve of mine.  Really skilled writers can communicate frustrations without pseudo-cussing, so while it might make her writing relatable to some, it annoys me like pet peeves do.  I thought she could have had more beautiful lines/paragraphs if she took those words out.

I also feel my inner tension rising when an author keeps touching on the gospel but not out-and-out explaining it at any point.  I can tell Simmons is mostly writing to people who are already believers, but I think if a book is going to keep referencing elements of the gospel, it probably would be beneficial to also explain it in full for anyone reading who might not know what the gospel is.  

This probably wouldn't have bothered me so much except for her suggestion in the last chapter that Jesus doesn't promise to give us answers.  I think that is definitely true when it comes to our own personal stories, but I disagree with that in a general sense.  The Bible (God's Word, and Jesus is God, so it's His Word too) gives us plenty of answers to life's questions, and to the question of how to be saved (believing that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rose again).  

This line in particular bothered me: "These days I get the feeling that the way of the cross is less concerned with answers and more concerned with Jesus" (pg. 224).  I am really not sure what she is getting at with that line.  Jesus is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6).  If we want the truth (which I equate with answers), we need to look to Jesus and His Word, and He will guide us into truth.

We may not know the answer to every question, but I think it is a mistake to imply that we can't know the answers to any questions.  I have a problem with Christian authors downplaying the importance of truth and playing up a mystical version of Christianity where no one really knows anything for sure.  I am not saying that's necessarily what Simmons was trying to communicate, but it all came across wrong to me.

Bottom line: Overall, I enjoyed this book alright, but it wasn't quite what I was expecting and wouldn't make my must-read list.  The indefinite ending, both in the storytelling and theology, kind of ruined it for me.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Charis said...

this looks like a book I need to read! always look for new ones...now that we're in school we have a huge list of to reads but I still like ideas

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