And Still She Laughs: Defiant Joy In The Depths Of Suffering, by Kate Merrick
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This book is messy in the best way. Reading this book, which is one of an unfortunately long list of books about dealing with the messiness and brokenness of life by female authors , one gets the feeling that speaking to the author would not be unlike reading the book in its honesty and in its forthright awkwardness. I have somewhat mixed feelings about the rush of books being written by and for people who have been deeply damaged by life. On the one hand, as someone who has been deeply damaged by life in ways that are painful and distressing, and knowing many people who feel the same way from a variety of circumstances, I am glad that there are books made that seek to comfort people and reach them where they are. On the other hand, I think we would do well more to point towards the ideal than wallow in the pain and suffering of the real. This book, like many, reaches us where we are, but there are other books needed to point us to where God meant for us to be. Perhaps this author, in the future, will write some of them.
In this book’s 200 or so pages with twelve chapters that mix the author coming to terms with the death of her daughter Daisy from cancer and the experience of multiple miscarriages with her own intense biblical study of other notable biblical women like Bathsheba, Mary of Nazareth, Sarah, and Hagar. The book has an interesting feel to it, in that it is full of vivid discussion of the problems of life from the author’s own experience and observation, told with wit and even sometimes a sense of reckless abandon and also a thoughtful and serious take on notable biblical women and their value as models and comforters to believers. It goes without saying that this book is written by women, about women, and for women, as are many books that are in my library, but this book is not meant only for women, and there are certainly men who would find a great deal of encouragement in the honesty of the author and her willingness to openly wrestle with the pain and difficulty of life with a fair amount of bravery.
There is a lot to value about this book. The author clearly has a good authorial voice and a command of her subject matter. One can empathize with her and how she struggles to overcome grief and bitterness and PTSD. One can also celebrate the fact that despite her suffering she has a loving husband and two surviving children who bring her great joy, even if they do not erase the pain and suffering and loss that she has experienced. This book is one that asks some tough questions and in wrestling with God gives encouragement to those who are wrestling with God in their own seasons of divine discontent and trial and struggle. Indeed, it is surprising how polished this book feels despite the author’s scatological focus and the messiness in many senses of the word of her subject matter. Be that as it may, as a book that combines biblical study along with elements of memoir, this book is one I can warmly recommend, especially for women looking for encouragement during dark seasons of life. The author’s honesty and grim determination will likely lessen the burden that many feel in their own periods of grief and sorrow.
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