I have to say I was very excited to read this book. Ian Cron wrote a book I reviewed earlier in the year entitled Chasing Francis, and I enjoyed his style thoroughly – I even gave the book a good review. But the further I got into this book the more disappointed I became.
Perhaps it was my expectation from the title, but with “Jesus” as the first word I thought Jesus would play a bigger role in the book. But I was sadly mistaken. The book focused on the life of Ian as he grew up with an alcoholic father. This is a story many people relate to and many books are written about, though what sets it apart for Ian is that his father works on-and-off for the CIA. But Jesus? He figures as a minor role in the story at best (let’s be honest – after reading the book I think his Nanny may have had a bigger influence on him that Christ), quite different than what I expected.
The writing was whimsical and I found myself laughing so hard in spots I cried, and if I was reading just any old autobiography of any person who was not claiming to be a Christian and who didn’t include the word “Jesus” in the title I would have given this book 5/5 stars – it was that enjoyable to read. But I was looking for more spiritual insight, more discussion regarding how Ian found Christ and how that experience changed – neigh, transformed – his life. But what I experienced were some passing references to Christ. It gave me a greater understanding of what it must have been like to live with an alcoholic, spy father, but it in no way drew me closer to the cross.
So, regrettably, I have to give this book only 1/5 stars.
While the World Watched tells the story of the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama that acted as a spark to ignite the Civil Rights movement. It is a gripping story of one of the teenage survivors of the bombing who lost four of her friends. Through the book she traces her journey as a black woman of the South in from the 1960s to the the present day. The overall theme of the book is the power of love and forgiveness over hate and death. It’s one of those rare books I had a hard time putting down (even when I was having trouble staying away because of the late hour at which I often read it!)
One of my favorite parts of the entire book was that throughout the chapters were excerpts of speeches by civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and even President Kennedy. At the end of the book was a brief appendix with actual Jim Crow Laws listed. I’ll say that much of what was in the book was new to me. Over my years in education I often commented to my history teachers and professors that we don’t teach recent history in school – I was always lucky to get to WWII, yet alone anything post-WWII in school. So while I obviously know of the Civil Rights movement and am familiar with many of the figures of it, this was the first time I read in detail anything about it. For a white man who grew up in the North it gave me a much better appreciation for the struggle faced by black Americans over the last half-century.
I would give the book five out of five stars, but there were times I struggled with following the storyline because it didn’t always tell it chronologically – and so at times I had to go back and re-read a few pages because I got confused when the timeline switched. That minor frustration, though, (and it was minor) is my only complaint. I’ll give it a solid 4.5/5 stars.
I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”