Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Great story, but flawed in the telling...Sent by Hilary Alan

Book Review:  Sent by Hilary Alan
I understand that we are not dealing with Dickinson, Bronte, or Austin here, but one cannot help but wonder if this book ever passed through the hands of an editor.  While there is some charm to a book written as a chat where thoughts are thrown in at random as they are remembered, the repeated refrain of “this was our pursuit of the American dream and we thought we had it made, but then…” gets a little annoying after a while.  Alan often indicates that she found remarks like “you gave up so much” offensive or irritating…so why keep bringing it up ever so often?  One is tossed back and forth from here to there and this type of choppiness can make one sea-sick at times. 

And then there is the tacked on sermon in chapter 30.  Does Alan really think that a non believer or even a nominal believer would have waded through all the previous chapters so that they could be convicted of their sin in the chapter before the epilogue?  And the tasteless Roman Catholic bashing is so unnecessary!  While begging Americans not to judge all Muslims by the actions of some, Alan dismisses all RCC members in a few sentences as people who have no clue as to the message of the Gospel.  Are we talking about glass houses here or what?  On page 237, she says: “I grew up in an incredibly dysfunctional home with infidelity, divorce, drugs, alcoholism, abuse, and broken relationships.  I was taught that education, position, and money were the keys to success and that religion was an obligation.”  Perhaps the finger pointing, if there ought to be any at all, should start and end here…

This is so sad, because this story could have been life changing for so many.  Alan goes for the jugular as far as American materialistic values are concerned and unveils the eyes of the blind Christians who follow the blind world.  She paints a tender picture of a family struggling to come to terms with the cost of true discipleship.  The chapters dealing with her involvement in the personal lives of those in her host culture are precious.  They are refreshing oases where Alan digs deep into her heart and shares the intimate thoughts of a Westerner trying desperately to come to terms with non-Western ways. 

I would love to read this book again once it has been (heavily) edited and reconstructed in a narrative form that easily flows from conflict, crisis, to resolution. 

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

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