Book Review: Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Lessons From The Mother Of Jesus For The Modern Mom, by Sarah Jakes

[Note: This book has been provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]

Sarah Jakes, a deeply engaging and personal writer [1] who has, so far, tended to focus on personal writings relating to the issues that women face, writes a memoir on motherhood that is organized under the cover of being a series of blog posts or letters addressed to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. In many ways, the blogs seems a bit like reading the somewhat lengthy and very personal letters of others, and reading the personal letters of others sent to third parties is something that makes me feel understandably uncomfortable given the way my own personal letters have been misread and mislaid. In reading this book, though, one has no doubt of the author’s bracing honesty and deep concern for the well-being of her children and her awareness of the difficult task of being a mother, especially as she was for a long time a single mother of two children, the first of whom was conceived when the author was about fourteen. Whatever you feel about the author’s life, she is appreciative of the love of her parents, honest about her own struggles in life, and gracious and compassionate towards the well-being of her children.

In terms of its organization, this book is composed of chapters that amount to lengthy personal letters (with occasional endnotes to news articles and wikipedia entries) that does not appear to be systematically organized in any fashion, but rather is topical and occasional in basis. These fifteen letters run the gamut from the author’s reflection on Mary being a teen mom, to concerns about parents still learning while they are raising children, daddy issues, having children that are different from other kids, the responsibilities of motherhood like making dinner, letting children grow up, being a working mom, trying to help one’s children avoid the mistakes parents made, struggling with being too hurt to parent, the need for a village of people to help out in watching and dealing with children, struggling with financial difficulties in making ends meet, facing the loss of children due to grief and disaster, dealing with the absence of a mother in one’s life, having to set aside private space and time away from the pressures of parenthood, and play dates with the families of other children. These are all issues that many parents, and not only mothers, can appreciate.

Although the author is herself from a position of high leadership within the black church, with all of the responsibility and visibility that involves, this is a book that speaks more about personal truth and observation than it does to a detailed exegesis of the Bible’s comments on motherhood. This book is made up of the various observations of a mother that is bringing her concerns, which are shared by many, before the attention of others. Some of these concerns are extremely serious, such as the way the author talks about her difficulties not speaking ill of her ex-husband even as they were in the process of going through a painful and public divorce, and the way that she shows fear about the safety of her brave and spirited daughter in light of her own mistakes as a girl, and the fact that to make ends meet herself as a teenager she worked as a waitress in a strip club of some kind, her ability to provide for her young son dependent on her ability to flirt with and charm male patrons [2]. This is a book that will be greatly appreciated by its intended reading audience, of which I am not, on account of its honesty and credibility, but it would be good for books like this to be coupled with others that pointed the ideal to which we should strive towards rather than merely seeking God’s unmerited pardon for the mess that we are in and the difficult conditions that so many of us face.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, History, Love & Marriage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Book Review: Dear Mary

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