Monday, May 26, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: A flawed book worth reading

Have you ever read a good book that drove you crazy because of a flawed writing style?

I have. In fact, I just finished reading one I'm going to recommend to you in spite of the style flaws in it.

The book is "The Extraordinary Fool" by Kevin Adams (published by Zondervan). This is a personal story of a man who had succeeded as far as the world is concerned. Living in a million-dollar home, married to a woman he loves, with children he loves, and succeeding in building his own business is the American dream that Adams achieved, and it was great!

Until it all came crashing down.

Well, the marriage and family survived, but the business and the "rewards" of financial success quickly came tumbling down for Adams. But we've all read stories like that. We've also read stories about how faith brought people through such hard times.

But there is something important that makes Adams' story different.

Adams didn't just trust God to bring him through hard times, he did more than that. He learned how to live by faith. Not faith for hard times. Not faith for the moment. But how to LIVE by faith ala George Muller style. About that, he writes:

"George Muller made it simple. By trading his commitment to Christianity for an absolute surrender to Christ, he left me with a challenge: learn to live by absolute faith --- foolishly so --- and let the answers be the answers, unembellished by my own desires or the opinions of others."

That's very different, and not very common today.

Because this is a story about really LIVING by faith and being fully surrendered to Christ, you'll find golden nuggets of insight strewn throughout the book. That's what makes this book worth buying and reading. But be forewarned, living by faith is so much more than what most people think that many readers will likely find themselves initially disagreeing with some of the decisions Adams made.

And that's the significance of this book!

The average Christian thinks they're living by faith, but more often than not they are living "practically" and "rationally." Living by faith will shake that up and turn things upside down. It did for Adams, and it does for those who make a real decision to follow Christ above all else, regardless of how impractical and irrational that may appear to be.

Now for my problem with the book, which is Adams' style of writing. There are a few flaws with how he writes that, at times, makes the book difficult.

First, in what seems to be an effort to keep the story flowing, I think Adams sometimes tells his story so fast that he leaves out some pertinent details. There were times when I didn't fully understand how Adams was approaching challenges by faith because he didn't provide enough details so the reader could fully understand.

What really drove me nuts was that Adams tries so hard to be poetic and eloquent with his choice of words that sometimes he just doesn't make sense. There was more than one occasion where I had to go back and re-read a sentence or paragraph and still didn't fully get what he was trying to communicate.

I chalk up these writing style issues to the fact that this is Adams' first book. I believe Adams is probably a diamond in the rough as an author. He certainly demonstrated in "The Extravagant Fool" that he has some brilliant, God-given insights worth sharing, and he can improve his writing style by slowing down just a little, providing a little more detail, and focusing on communicating a little more plainly so he can be more clearly understood.

I hope you don't let some style issues keep you from buying and reading this book. The content is worth absorbing and being challenged by, and you may just discover a new writer you would like to follow. I know I'm curious to see where Adams goes from here as an author.

Scotty

I received this book free from HarperCollins Christian Publishing as part of their BookLook book review bloggers 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 Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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