My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
“The Story of Who I Was and Who God Has Always Been”
This was my favorite Rubart book so far, and that’s saying a lot. I have been harsh on this author in the past (and by harsh, I mean 4 stars instead of 5) for leaving too many questions unanswered after the last page is read, but in a surprise twist, this book actually tied up some loose ends from his first offering, “Rooms”. Hmm… I may have to go back and change my rating on that one…
Rubart does a wonderful job developing the characters in this book. They feel so authentic and relatable that you can connect with their emotions on a deeper level. It’s easy to see why they are upset or confused – he conveys their feelings and passions so well. And I was in awe of the way the author takes individual story lines about Allison and her brother and skillfully weaves them together to form one seamless tapestry. Beautiful.
My only complaint with this one is more theological than literary – it is considered “Christian Fiction” after all. I don’t feel like the author does an adequate job pointing the reader to the source of true Christianity – salvation found only through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). He aptly notes that there is a vast difference between “religion” and “Christianity”, but in the end I feel like we’re left with the former and not much of the latter. A pseudo-Christianity with warm fuzzy feelings, but no Christ.
We see two examples of this false Christianity within the pages of this book. Allison’s boss and his secretary are the worst sort – hypocritical Pharisees who lead Bible studies about honesty and integrity, while lying to your face about simple facts. I’ve never had such a visceral dislike for characters in a book before. I’d like to reach through the book and smack that smug smile right off their faces.
The second example is more subtle than the first, but I just can’t shake the feeling that a pseudo-salvation is still there. It may be unintentional on the part of the author, but I find it concerning that the main characters are not pointed to Jesus as the source of their strength and salvation. Instead they are given some self-help platitudes and told to look inside themselves. We are left with this anti-climactic answer to Allison’s problems:
“…there was one thing that could never be shaken. One thing that was as everlasting as eternity. And it was at the core of her being. She was a warrior. Had always been one. Would always be one. And it was time for her to breathe life back into that warrior. Time for the bones to grow flesh around them. Time for flesh to rise and come alive. Time to banish fear from her heart, her mind, her soul, and allow the Spirit of truth to be her strength. Time for her to fight again. Time for her to be Allison Moore.”
Her brother’s life answers were no more promising:
“I’m starting to know who I am. Live from the deep part of me that’s been there all along, I just didn’t know it. And it turns out that person has worth. More than I knew.”
Does a person have worth? Absolutely! Can God use supernatural means to strengthen, protect, and sustain us? Yes! But can we make ourselves right with God by discovering who we were meant to be? No. Not apart from the work of Jesus. Solo Christo.
I have a friend disagrees with my take on this book. In his opinion, Rubart does a good job at causing the reader to examine themselves. Perhaps that is his purpose for the ambiguity. Christianity is offensive, but perhaps if he poses the questions, the reader will begin seeking out answers and find Jesus along the way.
However, I feel like the author intentionally shied away from the Truth – salvation in Christ alone – which could be considered offensive to some. Ironically, all of the 1-star reviews that I have read consider this book either too religious (because of the supernatural), or not religious enough (i.e. not about Jesus). Sometimes if you try to straddle the fence, you’re going to land on a post.
Having said all that, please don’t let my negative attitude toward the author’s conclusions deter you from reading this amazing book. I did give it 4.5 stars after-all, and it’s worth every point.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.