Book Review: What Falls From The Sky

What Falls From The Sky:  How I Disconnected from the Internet and Reconnected with the God Who Made the Clouds, by Esther Emery

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

This book is full of strange tensions and contradictions.  The author herself, frequently, comments on how she feels torn between her roots among rural and deeply Conservative survivalists [1] and the urban and generally godless progressives who befriended her as a young adult.  These tensions extend to the existence of the book itself, which is a narrative about a year where the author unplugged herself from the internet and, not by choice, was even unplugged from her computer as a result of a theft by a neighborhood junkie.  What makes this strikingly ironic is that when I requested this book, no print copy of the book was available and I had to download it from the internet and read it on my kindle device.  What the book does provide, from a perspective that would generally annoy me and irritate me to the point of not appreciating the book at all, is a way that the hipster motives the urban progressive and the deeply conservative counter cultural elements of the author combine in a shared mistrust of the power of technology and the lack of desirability of conformity with the ordinary standards of a society that is viewed with contempt even as the author struggles to show love to neighbors.  The book is a strange one, but thankfully not a bad one.

This year-long memoir, which the author promises is only part of a larger narrative that might actually be worth reading, is divided into twelve chapters by month in four sections that are labeled snow, rain, sun, and fog, for the four seasons involved.  The story is itself an interesting one, as the author clearly belongs to the awkward oversharing tribe of bloggers and writers of which I am also a member [2].  The author shows herself in a somewhat unsympathetic light as someone who feels dragooned into being a stay at home mom despite not feeling well-connected with her children or husband and being a terribly neurotic person whose command of the English language makes that neurotic and anxious nature particularly vivid in description.  Against all odds and my own initial inclination, she was someone who I could relate to, even as she could bitterly comment on how an ex-friend of hers refused to invite her on a trip even though that ex-friend had been involved in an affair with the author’s husband, which precipitated the crisis of their marriage which occurred while she was pregnant with their second child, and even as the author herself confesses to flirtations with other members of their theater crowd.  Given the general messiness of the author’s life and her own deep divides, divides I can understand as someone who straddles the world of rural traditionalist and progressive urban hipster myself, it is perhaps for the best that she unplugged from the internet for a while, as it appears to have done her good.

Ultimately, this is a book about the way that broken people fumble towards God and strive, at least within the narrow bounds of their understanding and abilities, to mimic the love for our neighbors that Jesus Christ demonstrated on this earth.  I read this book as someone who is not very favorable to the social gospel message that the author herself espouses and to the whiny liberal guilt that normally accompanies it, and I found that the author was herself quite a sympathetic person and someone I could relate to even if I found her idea of the Bible and of politics to be entirely unacceptable.  The author’s self-portrayal, warts and all, allows the reader to see her as a person, and even if I do not plan on disconnecting myself from the internet, I can agree that the pressure to display ourselves online can often serve as a strong disincentive for developing humility in our hunger for attention and ersatz intimacy.  Against all odds, this book managed to be a worthwhile one with all of its imperfections and awkwardness.

[1] The author describes her mother as someone who would write a book like this:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/07/29/book-review-500-treasured-country-recipes/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/06/25/book-review-in-search-of-stones/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/27/book-review-this-is-awkward/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/31/that-awkward-moment-when-you-realize-that-the-common-connection-among-all-your-uncomfortable-silences-is-yourself/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/12/11/the-most-awkward-missionary-of-all-time/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/11/16/embrace-the-awkwardness/

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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 Book Reviews, Christianity and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Book Review: What Falls From The Sky

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Red Letter Revolution | Edge Induced Cohesion

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