Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, And Lonely, by Lysa TerKeurst
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
I am of deeply mixed opinions when it comes to this book. On the one hand, there is a lot, perhaps too much, that I can identify with in this author. She writes from a painfully honest sense of vulnerability, including a lot of awkward and embarrassing and uncomfortable experiences from her life, including parental abandonment, the breakup of friendships, romantic troubles, the fear of rejection, insecurity, problems in communication, and the like. She makes some comic hay out of her difficulties, and includes a great deal of helpful scriptures and stories that help frame her struggles, like the stories of Hannah and Abigail (which takes up at least two chapters of this book). On the other hand, the author strays from encouraging if awkward personal stories to painfully trite, even offensive, advice. The author would have been better served to stick with the stories, and try not to give rehashed and warmed over motivational advice, although the author meant this as a motivational book, so her use of tedious cliché is perhaps to be expected for the genre. This book appears to be written for overly emotional women with daddy issues , and it will likely encourage its target audience.
The contents of this book are organized somewhat haphazardly, and it appears, at least when one gets to the end, that the real core of the book is in the “bonus chapter” that some people are likely not to read at all. The chapters have all kinds of cutesy titles, dealing with questions of honesty, questions we must consider, dealing with our paranoid fears that others hate us, feeling alone in a crowded room, dealing with trust issues and the breakup of friendships into years of cold silence, the disruption of normal life, corrective experiences, dealing with the hurt of rejection, working to feel unthreatened by the success of others, things we must remember when we are rejected, our enemy’s plan against us, miracles in the mess, moving through the in-between periods of life, wanting to run away, and dealing with the fact that what we think will fix us does not actually do so. After this, the author transitions into her real point, talking about what it is like to live with her and encouraging the reader to take an assessment in how it is like for others to live with them, and a chart of corrective experiences. Intermixed with a lot of personal stories, perhaps a bit too personal, is terrible advice that sounds like the rehashing of clichés from people like Stephen Covey and Jim Rohn. Thankfully, the stories are sufficiently engaging that one can almost forgive the author’s total lack of creativity in framing this advice for the reader.
The reader of this book is faced with the serious question of how this book is to be judged. Does the open and painful vulnerability on the part of the writer make one more compassionate and empathetic for her struggles and those like her, including a large portion of her reading audience, even when she spouts offensive self-help tripe to the reader as words of divine wisdom? Perhaps these clichés are what she uses to encourage herself, and she feels that others would be similarly helped by the advice, which is a woefully misguided interpretation. At the core, this book feels like a terrible self help book that masquerades as both a personal memoir of considerable honesty and an attempt to wrestle with and claim the biblical promises of comfort and help for believers, and the recognition that unpleasant rejection and difficult personal experiences can be the sign of a harsh but ultimately beneficial grace. This is a worthwhile insight, it should be noted, but it is unclear what sort of book the author is trying to write. If the structure of the book and its ultimate aims were more clear, and there were fewer clichés, this book would have a lot more to offer. Sadly, as it is, this book must be praised for its effort even if its execution falls short. Hopefully the author does not take a review like this one as a personal rejection, and rather sees it as an opportunity to improve, and to encourage herself with stale bromides she will hopefully not repeat in future efforts.
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