Finding Your Voice: What Every Woman Needs To Live Her God-Given Passions Out Loud, by Natalie Grant
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
In ways that ought to be fairly easy to understand, this book was one I found very helpful and encouraging to other people, but also a book that I found a lot to be frustrated with. Somewhat in its writing, but even more in its title and market aim, this is a book written by a woman for women, but a book that could have been so much more if the author, and especially the publisher, and felt less need to be bound by gender restrictions in terms of the book’s audience. Why is it that I read so often books that would be of interest to men, specifically those men like myself who are deeply interested in singing and in the lives of other musical or artistic people , or who are deeply interested in social causes like ridding the contemporary world of slavery and sex trafficking and other great evils . When authors, and even more so publishers, assume that a book is only of interest to women and so shape a book to deliberately ignore those men who are a part of the book’s natural audience, I feel a great deal of personal offense, and also feel that an author who wishes to be inclusive about faith and worship loses a great deal of the power of that authorial voice by aiming only at a small audience without acknowledging a larger potential friendly and appreciating group of people to those works. It is not as if the author, who is a well-regarded Christian singer, only sings to women, after all. Why would she presume to write only to them?
The contents of this book range from confessional details about the author’s struggle with infertility and eating disorders, an evident desire to explain herself where she feels misunderstood, such as a situation where she apparently left the Grammys early and was widely panned for that, and the use of her knowledge of the craft of singing to encourage readers (presumably women) to gain a better understanding of their God-given gifts and passions to serve God and others through keeping care of themselves and training and practicing what they love and what God put them on this earth to do. The author shows an admirable understanding of the nuance of scripture in such stories as that of Joseph, Elijah, and the Samaritan woman at the well, that she uses to provide a biblical context to what is largely fairly straightforward advice. Her details about her own struggle are clearly meant to pull at the heartstrings of readers, many of whom will be able to understand her difficulties in finding a sense of security in body image in the face of continual scrutiny–I certainly had a great deal of empathy for her. Her advice to readers in terms of how they should take care of themselves–eat well, exercise, train and practice in one’s areas of abilities and giftedness, sleep well enough–could be judged as either carrying coals to Newcastle or going from encouraging into meddling, depending on the charity of the reader.
Readers of this book are likely to want a great deal of information about the songs that the author is responsible for singing, but there is surprisingly little of this, which makes sense when one realizes that Natalie Grant is a singer who pays a great deal of attention to her voice, but she is not particularly prolific as a songwriter. It should come as little surprise, therefore, that she has considerable and worthy insights to provide about how one should train a voice and keep it in good working order but considerably less to say about the songs she sings, since she interprets them rather than writes them. What the reader does gain from this book is a sense of Natalie Grant as a woman who is committed to God’s ways, committed to being the best she can be as a singer, as a believer, as a wife and mother, as an abolitionist against slavery and child trafficking, and a sense of her struggles in the course of her life against problems that could have silenced her voice. I, for one, found the author to be a very credible authority in what she was writing about both about the application of scripture to efforts at self-exploration and self-knowledge in the aim of serving others. One only wishes that she had taken some consideration to the fact that some members of her audience are men, and not assumed her reflections would only be of interest to other women.
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