New York Times bestselling author Jen Hatmaker, with playful hilarity, shameless honesty, and refreshing insight, assures readers they have all the pluck they need for vibrant, courageous, grace-filled lives.
Jen Hatmaker believes backbone is the birthright of every woman. Women have been demonstrating resiliency and resolve since forever. They have incredibly strong shoulders to bear loss, hope, grief, and vision. She laughs at the days to come is how the ancient wisdom writings put it.
But somehow women have gotten the message that pain and failure mean they must be doing things wrong, that they messed up the rules or tricks for a seamless life. As it turns out, every last woman faces confusion and loss, missteps and catastrophic malfunctions, no matter how much she is doing “right.” Struggle doesn’t mean they’re weak; it means they’re alive.
Jen Hatmaker, beloved author, Big Sister Emeritus, and Chief BFF, offers another round of hilarious tales, frank honesty, and hope for the woman who has forgotten her moxie. Whether discussing the grapple with change (“Everyone, be into this thing I’m into! Except when I’m not. Then everyone be cool.”) or the time she drove to the wrong city for a fourth-grade field trip (“Why are we in San Antonio?”), Jen parlays her own triumphs and tragedies into a sigh of relief for all normal, fierce women everywhere who, like her, sometimes hide in the car eating crackers but also want to get back up and get back out, to live undaunted “in the moment” no matter what the moments hold.
My Review: I have some very mixed feelings about this book. From the start, I wanted to love it and the very beginning of the book set me up to do just that. Jen was very intentional about emphasizing that this book was for every woman. She specifically listed women in most all scenarios of life and it made me feel included from the start. That feeling is very important to a woman who doesn’t always feel like she fits.
Unfortunately, the content of the book did not match her statement. This book was supposedly written for every woman, but about 90% of it was geared toward mothers. Much of the content made me feel like it was assumed that the reader would be a mom. This was disappointing and only served to make me feel less included. I realize that Jen is a mom and I’m sure that much of her life story revolves around her kids, but don’t set up a book to be for “every woman” if it’s not. Just saying it is, doesn’t make it so.
I also was unclear as to the whole point of the book. There was some humor and a few relatable things scattered throughout it, but mostly it seemed like a random, eclectic set of thoughts on parenting.
It really saddens me because even toward the end of the book, Jen talks about being aware of who is around you and realizing that not everyone is in the same place in life. She talks about women whose stories are outside the lines and she acknowledges that sensitivity to that is needed, but yet her book doesn’t live up to her words. While on this subject, she makes the statement “It means considering the stories around the table before launching into an assumed shared narrative.” I absolutely love the idea of this, but if her readers are those seated around the table, she surely is not considering their stories before launching into an assumed shared narrative.
I wanted to appreciate her acknowledgement and consideration so much, but how could I when the whole book is about being a mom?
Those of us women who live lives that are outside the lines, don’t need anymore reminders that we don’t fit in. The infertile certainly don’t need to hear sections on “How to plan a family” in which she jokes about her husband glancing at her, and becoming pregnant.
It’s not that I expect her to not want to write about her experience in parenting, but acknowledge that your target audience is moms. Not. Every. Woman.
One last major issue I have with this book is the theology of it. Jen makes comments that seems rather flippant and disrespectful toward Jesus. She also embraces sinful lifestyles in the name of inclusion and love. While we are certainly called to love, we are not called to ignore sin or embrace it.
One last thing I loved was near the end. She encourages her readers to fangirl their friends. Cheer and support them and be their biggest fans. I love that thought and wholly believe that we should be supporting each other and cheering each other on.
It makes me sad that this book had such an opportunity to really speak to every woman, but it sadly just fell so short. The idea of making sure all women felt included and being considerate of who is around you, is an awesome, awesome thing and I absolutely believe it should be more recognized that not all women “fit the mold” Unfortunately, I finished the book feeling more glaringly left out than before.
*I received a copy of this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.