Book Review: You Are Free

You Are Free:  Be Who You Already Are, by Rebekah Lyons

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

Part of the occupational hazard of being who suffers openly and conspicuously from mental health issues [1] as well as being a prolific reader and reviewer of Christian books is that one reads a lot of books that deal with becoming free from problems like depression and anxiety.  Like this particular book, these books in general are nearly always books being written by women, for women, and about women.  Among the most important aspects of these works is the credibility the author gains through discussing her own struggles, showing how she has been able to deal successfully with them, and being open about her background and the background of others she has worked with.  This particular book purports to show the author dealing successfully with anxiety and depression, issues I am extremely familiar with personally, but there are at least a few areas where the book just does not entirely work, where I cannot buy what the author is claiming.  The chronology of this book is extremely disordered, and shows that the author has had a far more continual struggle with her mental health issues than she lets on.  Additionally, the author is awfully coy about how these symptoms developed.  Given my own harrowing personal background, I would guess that her own is at least in the same general ballpark as my own, but there is no such admission here of her background, as is common in such books.

The structure of this book is rather simple.  It has the feel of a book about 200 pages or a bit more (I read it via ebook, which makes this more difficult to know for sure), and contains various chapters that state that the reader can be free in a particular area of life.  As I mentioned earlier, the chronology jumps around to the point where one wonders if this was done intentionally in order to present the author as having a more positive trajectory of mental health than was actually the case.  Included among the chapters is the freedom to grieve, which the author chooses to discuss by referencing her grief over her eldest child’s diagnosis of Down Syndrome.  Throughout the book the author seems to pit her background against a belief in grace.  This is a fairly common false dilemma among professed Christians in that those who wish to be free of the burdens they feel often claim a freedom from the laws and ways of God that place heavy responsibilities on us.  This gives the author the unfortunate whiff of being an antinomian who blames God’s laws and their application for the struggles she has faced.  The book as a whole contains a great deal of personal memoir material and each chapter also contains discussion questions for the reader that attempt to get the reader to feel for the author.

Again, this was a book I wanted to like far more than I actually did.  In reading this book I got the feeling that there was more to the story:  the author appears likely to continue to struggle to feel free despite intellectually believing that God has set her free through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the author’s serious struggles with anxiety and depression are likely to continue throughout the rest of her life, despite temporary periods of relief and remission.  Like many people, myself included, she is likely to know a great many dark nights of the soul, and this book would have been a lot better if she had been candid about the origin of those troubles, as it would have made her a much more sympathetic writer.  As it is, she comes off as being a bit dishonest, and in a book like this it is a fatal flaw for an author to not feel as if she is putting all of her cards on the table and opening herself transparently.  Those readers who find the author credible and candid are likely to feel far better about this book.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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