Wednesday, March 23, 2016

This Is Awkward, by Sammy Rhodes

In This Is Awkward, Sammy Rhodes talks directly, honestly, and hilariously about the most painfully uncomfortable subjects in our lives. In chapter like "Parents Are a Gift (You Can't Return Them)" and "D is for Depression," he boldly goes where most of us fear to tread, revealing that we can be liberated by the embrace of a God who knows the most shameful things about us and loves us all the same. Because nothing is too awkward for God. (from the back cover)
Depression, divorce, porn, social media, introversion, and.... donuts?  These are just a few of the weird and randomly awkward chapter topics in This Is Awkward.   If that's not enough, Rhodes starts each chapter with a little behind-the-scenes venture into his meandering, neurotic mind (and I say that with total respect... and as a person who also has a meandering, neurotic mind) as he writes... or tries to write... or thinks about writing... mostly at places like Starbucks.  I would have honestly read the book just for these little excerpts alone.  To say that I could relate would be a gross understatement. They met me in the most vulnerable, darkest, awkwardest, weirdest corners of my psyche.  I'm not a husband, or a father, or a male, but I get Sammy Rhodes.

I started reading this book in the waiting room at the dentist, and found myself praying that he'd be running late so I could keep reading.  I felt like a little kid, plotting to beg her parents, "Just five more minutes!" when they came in to find me reading in bed and told me it was time for lights out.   Sammy Rhodes writes in a wonderfully relatable and conversational style that made me want to keep turning the pages.  He writes about the things that so many of us think about, but are afraid to say. Plus, he's hysterical.

The truly great thing about this book though isn't so much the camaraderie you feel reading about someone who's just as weird and awkward as you are (though that's certainly a part of it).  What makes it great is the overall hopeful message that God accepts and loves even at our most embarrassingly awkward.  Something that I think I can never hear enough.

Read it.

I received this book for free from the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

It Was Me All Along, by Andie Mitchell

It was Me All Along is a memoir about a young woman's life, loves, and relationships, particularly when it comes to food.  All her life, Andie Mitchell turned to food for comfort, companionship, and as a refuge from the turmoil in her fractured family life.  This story chronicles that disordered relationship, and the toil it took on both her body and her sense of self of self, as she navigates the ups and downs of growing up, going to college, and eventually finding where she does - and does not - fit in the world.  Reaching an all time high weight of 268, Andie does the hard work to discover why she's always turned to food, what she can do about, and ultimately the path she needs to take to find health and healing.

I really connected with this book.  Ms Mitchell is a wonderful descriptive writer and story-teller, and she makes you both root for her all while wincing at the stops and starts along the way.  It did take me a little longer to finish than it normally takes me.... not because the book wasn't great (it was), but because it was a heavy and at times heart-wrenching read.  Her story was a messy one, but it was also filled with hope.  It left me feeling inspired, and proud of this woman I have never met.  Her weight loss (of over a hundred pounds!) was amazing, but it was almost secondary to the realizations about self-love she made along the way, as well as the healthy and balanced relationship she had with food by the end.  As someone who really appreciates good food, in what I'd like to think is a healthy way, her triumphs made me happy, especially after learning that she actually went into food blogging and writing as a career.  It was as if her disordered eating - which could have chewed her up and spit her out - instead refined her, made her stronger, and forced her to find the tools she needed to turn her love for food into something beautiful and healthy and life-affirming.

Very inspiring.

For me, the mark of a great book versus a good one is what I do when I'm done.  When I finished this book, I immediately looked up Andie Mitchell to follow her all over social media (which, by the way, I suggest you do too.... if for no other reason to find out what became of her relationship with Daniel)

Beautiful book, and beautiful human.  Inside and out.