Falling Free: Rescued From The Life I Always Wanted, by Shannan Martin
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Nelson Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This is a book that it is easy to criticize and find fault with. The kindest that can be said for it is that it is a hot mess of a book written by a mother who is somewhat of a hot mess in her own life, and it gets more negative from there. This is a book that is composed of the rambling, overly wordy blog entries of a second-tier Christian blogger which was likely written first for her own sanity, second for her coterie of like-minded social gospel women , and only after that for an audience of strangers. It is hard to know whether or not to praise this work for conveying the reality of life for someone that does not seem all that admirable, mostly because of her trying so hard to prove herself admirable through various acts of self-abdegnation and self-sacrifice. One gets the feeling that regardless of when you would have been part of the author’s life, she would likely be a hard person for someone to like unless they shared a love of pickles or the same sort of whiny social gospel focus, but the book is full of life and vigor, even if it is a messy life, and even if one wishes that a good editor had gotten his hand on these rambling pages and beaten them into some sort of shape. What it is it with so many unfinished and rambling books being published these days? This book is practically on the level of self-publishing in terms of its style and tone, and would tend to decrease one’s confidence that traditional publishers really know what they are about these days.
This is the sort of book where the author’s agenda is transparent, largely because neither the writer nor the editor (if anyone actually edited this mess) were clever enough to disguise it, where the author urges us through her own sloppy life to engage in the following sort of behaviors: get risky, redefine family (through adoption), have less, unplan, live small, gather, open the door, grow together, commune, and give more. The freedom that the author revels in is the freedom from living up to anyone’s expectations, and appears to lack any sort of grounding in biblical law, but is rather grounded in some sort of intellectually shallow emotionalism. The life discussed in this book is what happens when someone loses sight of the way things ought to be and revels in the mud and the muck of what is. The results aren’t pretty, and this book is certainly not pretty. About the best thing that can be said of it is that the book is not as offensive as many of its ilk because the author lacks the skill at writing to disguise the messiness and ugliness of her social experimentation, and appears to have genuine compassion for those who live messier lives because of generational patterns of failure, and love covers a multitude of sins, even the sins of terrible writing.
So, ultimately, how does one view a book like this? In the end, my opinions are mixed. The author appears to be nothing if not sincere and loving and caring, and one hopes that the ragamuffins the author adopts are helped and aided by her love and concern. Does the author have any business attempting to write a book at this level of her own proficiency as a writer? No, but that does not stop any number of people lacking in skill and writing proficiency these days. Would the author have been better off if she stayed on her few acres in the country or continued to work in the beltway as part of a Conservative think tank? Probably. It would have done her better to learn more about the way things ought to be than to mess up her life and the lives of her fellow family members by thrusting herself into the messiness of contemporary existence. There are enough people who praise the ugliness of life and the disastrous way people tend to live, there is more need for godly examples of the way things ought to be. This book does not meet that crying need.
 See, for example: