Control Girl: Lessons On Surrendering Your Burden Of Control From Seven Women In The Bible, by Shannon Popkin
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This book, although modest in size at only about two hundred pages, helped me answer a worthwhile question about my reading habits. Many readers of this book are aware that I frequently read books by women for women and about women . Often I ask myself why this is the case, aside from my generally broad tastes in nonfiction reading. In reading this book, I got the distinct feeling that I was reading the female equivalent of male locker room conversation, the sort of open honesty combined with a bit of braggadocio and vulnerability that a woman would not likely want to show to a man but felt comfortable with to an audience of women. This book features a woman opening up about her control freak tendencies and it is definitely an unpleasant picture to read as a guy. In fact, looking at this account, I am impressed at how patient her husband is with her shrewish tendencies, as I would find it horrifying to marry a woman like this author was/is. In reading this novel one gets the feeling that fighting control freak tendencies is not a one-time battle but is the sort of battle that has to be fought over and over again, and the fact that the author is aware of the problem and has decided to write about it publicly should at least encourage her to work on it better.
The contents of this book are well-organized. One could say, without being unkind, that the author showed a considerable degree of control over her material with a very tight organizational scheme. The author begins by talking about the path of a control girl, and then gives discussions about Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, and Miriam, before closing with a discussion of how one goes from a control girl to a Jesus girl. Reading the personal stories interwoven with the scriptural discussion, one gets the distinct feeling that the author has not progressed very far along that path yet, although, bless her heart, she is trying at least. Each of the chapters includes several lessons for the readers on how they can learn to give up control to God and treat their husbands and children and those around them with better respect. The author apparently belongs to the vaudeville school of moral demonstration by being candid about her failings in the hope that this will make her advice go down easier and be less offensive to other people with control freak tendencies and her observations about the women she chooses to discuss are generally shrewd.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to read this book without getting the feeling that the author is a bit self-deluded about her mastery over her control freak tendencies. This is a book that offers a great deal of painful and unpleasant truths, but sometimes the author simply muffs it. For example, the author does not discuss Rachel’s theft of her father’s idols as an aspect of her control freak tendencies nor does she comment on Rachel’s death in childbirth as an aspect of her unhappy ending, but rather leaves the discussion vague. It is also curious that the author chooses all of her examples from the Law, rather than seeking a broader range of time, which would seem to imply that control girls are more of an early OT phenomenon and taking advantage of the general hostility of many Christian readers to the laws of God. If this was an intentional choice, it is a cunning one. At any rate, this is a good book, especially for women, and its message can be wholeheartedly embraced even if its messenger is a particularly unfortunate choice, but it could have been an even better book. Still, for those women who want encouragement to respect others better and rein in their control girl tendencies, this is a worthwhile book.
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