For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is worth more than 3 stars, but in light of all the 5-star reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I find myself compelled to provide a counterpoint. For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards is a fun stream-of-consciousness roller coaster ride through the rants and raves of a Jesus-loving, preacher’s wife and mother-of-5, sprinkled with a little minor celebrity glitz. It is, therefore, not what I expected.
The book is truly funny, easy to read in small snatches and occasionally makes a great point of practical theology. (“If you can make a pot of chili and use a cell phone, then you can create community.” Or, “Anytime the rich and poor combine, we should listen to whoever has the least power.”) However, it is not what I expected because the title suckered me. I thought it was going to be a straight-up education about grace applied to ourselves primarily and others secondarily, something we all sorely need, whether we are coming from the get-your-life-in-line end of the spectrum or the let-it-all-hang-out end. But it’s not. After the wonderful Introduction, grace is never directly addressed again, and there are whole chapters which don’t even use the word. There IS a chapter on fashion, multiple chapters addressing pet peeves, Jen’s life in Facebook posts and several intricate recipes. Yes, there are a couple more serious chapters about missions (ala When Helping Hurts) and church leaders, but there is approximately one Bible reference (ok, I found three more in the second-to-last, confusing chapter encouraging women to lead more) and for a book touting grace, I felt kind of ragged on a few times.
I could be the author’s mother (if I’d had a couple of rough teen years), so there’s one other thing I’ve got to say: sometimes this good-hearted lady knows not of what she speaks. By her own admission she hasn’t been through a lot of hardships. She has a loving pastor-husband, five great kids who are still at home, and she and her friends cheer on one another’s published books, released CD’s and popular podcasts. Talk to me again when there’s only one of you working on your marriage, when your grown child has embraced atheism, when you’ve had a significant part of your body disfigured, or when your best friend or your dreams have died a slow death. Then please write a serious book aimed at lifting burdens, explaining modern dilemmas and applying grace to self-condemnation. Until then, though, please adhere to truth in advertising by subtitling your book: Funny Blogs about Being a Middle-aged Christian Mom.
Buy this book (seriously, do) if you want to read some light yet inspiring Christian humor. Just don’t be fooled by the title like I was. And, Jen, when you decide to write the book you promised in the Introduction, I’ll stand in line for it.
This review was previously published on this site as well as Amazon.com and Goodreads.com