I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know by W. Lee Warren, MD

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know by W. Lee Warren

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Dr. W. Lee Warren, an Iraq War veteran and practicing brain surgeon, has struggled with how to give hope to his brain cancer and head injury patients after looking at their grave test results and thinking, “I’ve seen the end of you.” Dr. Warren combines several of his patients’ medical stories with a stretch of his own tough journey of faith in his memoir, I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know.

When approaching a hard, tragic read like this, rather than waiting for the author to give me a bunch of perfect, definitive answers to life’s difficult questions, I come looking to see how another human being processes something that everyone faces in some form at one time or another. Seeing how someone else finds light through their dark experiences can give us a little more light for our own.

Fair warning to the squeamish that the medical content in the book can get pretty graphic, and to anyone who may be expecting only literal accounts, the author does use fictitious representatives and composites of several individuals to protect the identities of real people.

But the stories are true, as is the author’s journey. Now, he rehashes some of the same basic statements and questions a number of times, and there are places where he seems to wander while figuring out what to say next or where to stop. I feel that certain points he makes get a little lost; they would have been stronger and easier to remember if the book had been condensed, more concise.

Nevertheless, several of the author’s thoughts echo my own, such as his views on handing Christian platitudes to grieving people, and the danger of building one’s faith on the erroneous assumption that belief in God is supposed to exempt believers from tragedy. No, this isn’t a pleasant read that offers easy fixes, but ultimately, it’s still a message of hope, shining light through darkness.

 

Ruth: A Refugee Story

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Ruth: A Refugee Story

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“I know how you left behind your mother and father, your relatives and your homeland, and came here to live among strangers… You have come to Yahweh, the God of Israel, seeking refuge.” (GSV)

I often hear people (especially women) refer to the biblical book of Ruth as a love story. That makes sense, not only in regard to Ruth’s relationship and marriage to Boaz but also in light of Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi.

However, Ruth the Moabite wasn’t only a daughter-in-law and a widow seeking a new husband. The thought of her as a foreigner in Bethlehem, in need of refuge, was what drew me to read Ruth: A Refugee Story, the book of Ruth as retold by Matt Mikalatos.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read this book in different versions of the Bible. While reading the Good Story Version this time around, I did a little extra pondering on Ruth as an immigrant. And as it was when I read Jonah: A Comedy, another GSV retelling, I found the storyteller’s notes at the end to be of particular interest.

Worth checking out for readers and studiers of biblical themes—the story and its corresponding notes in the back.

No one wants to be a refugee.
Leaving your home because of famine, or violence, or war, is a painful decision.

 

White Picket Fences: Turning toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege by Amy Julia Becker

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from NavPress for an honest review.

White Picket Fences: Turning toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege by Amy Julia Becker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

And now, as I confront the harm to me, to my friends and family, and to countless others by a social structure that has been built on exclusion, do I want to get well?

It’s a loaded question author Amy Julia Becker asks in White Picket Fences: Turning toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege. I didn’t choose to read this book because I think I’m the target audience for it. I’m not. But I was interested in hearing this author’s perspective.

Yet, when it comes to those who are the closer targets for this book, it will likely require some “pushing past” to even pick it up and open it.

Pushing past the indifference or skepticism that says privilege isn’t a big deal, or that it might not be a real thing, or that it’s merely a divisive or hot button term attached to a political agenda. Pushing past the fear-based discomfort that says to avoid the topic, or the fear-based hopelessness that says privilege is so longstanding, so ingrained, and so prevalent that there’s no point in trying to change things now.

If you are indeed someone who flinches at the mention of privilege, know that this isn’t a book meant to demonize you. To make you feel guilty about your skin color or for being born to a particular social status. And be advised that the author doesn’t limit her discourse here to the subject of race.

It feels a little severe to call it a “discourse,” though, and it almost seems out of place to say I enjoyed it. But for someone who mostly reads fiction, this book often made me feel like I could have been reading an understated but affecting contemporary novel. Becker has a lovely writing style, and she addresses tough, complex issues with grace and nuance.

A book well worth pushing past discomfort to read.

 

Carpe Diem by Katy Huth Jones

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Carpe Diem by Katy Huth Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Face that “if” if it comes…

I only read poetry collections once in the very bluest of moons, but I decided to take a quick break with Carpe Diem by Katy Huth Jones.

I connected most with her reflections on her experiences with illness, especially where “true love” comes in. Can’t say I didn’t tear up a couple times while reading, and I wasn’t expecting that at all.

Anyone who can appreciate inspirational poetry can find something to appreciate in this collection. Light and sweet here, haunting and defiant there, with moments that are profound and uplifting.

Uplifting–and now I can see just how fitting the balloon on the book cover is!

…For now, live and rejoice.
That is hope.