Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: It's Not About Me

It's Not About Me (A Second Glances Novel, #1)It's Not About Me by Michelle Sutton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked this up because it was supposed to be an "edgy" Christian romance and I was interested to see what was meant by that. I suppose "edgy" means total melodramatic trainwreck, because the book certainly was that. But maybe it was the vomiting because there was plenty of that too.

Annie is a Nice Christian Girl dating a Tony, a preacher's kid who has started hanging out with a Bad Influence Friend (character not fleshed out) who releases Tony's inner Mr. Hyde. Tony starts looking at porn and pressuring Annie for sex, leading indirectly to Annie being horribly assaulted and Tony into becoming even more of jerk, but this time with added drinking problem. Enter Dan, Tony's Nice Christian brother who has long admired Annie from afar, and who is just thrilled to be there for her while Tony is struggling with his own metaphorical demons. There's also a subplot involving Annie's "friend" Susie, who has a crush on Dan and plots to keep him and Annie apart. So poor Annie is surrounded by all these douchebags. It's no wonder she turns to Jesus.

But Wait! you say. Didn't you describe Annie in the first paragraph as a Nice Christian Girl? Hasn't she already turned to Jesus? Well, Annie thinks she is a Christian in the opening of the book, too, but apparently she isn't really a really REAL Christian despite believing in Jesus and wanting to be a Christian, and praying to be one, and being observant and making choices to do the right things--the things which I thought make up Christianity. No, she has to pray AGAIN, apparently it didn't work the first time, because if you're a really REAL Christian God you have to pray (again?), and then God will talk to you telepathically nearly constantly. (Which, is not, in my experience at least, the way it works, but maybe I'm not a really REAL Christian, or maybe this is more of a work of fiction than I thought it was supposed to be). So every time each one of these trainwreck characters reaches a crisis point in their life (every 50 pages or so), Dan is there--not to tell them to get right with God because they've lost their way, because most people do lose their way every now and then on their Christian walk--but to tell them to convert.

So, yeah, despite having all the violence, teen social problems, and puking (assault-, alcohol-, and food poisoning-related) you could ask for, from which the "edginess" comes, this book was also very preachy, and it was preaching something I can't really get behind, namely that those who really desire to be a Christian and have started down that path, but somehow lose track of where they really ought to be spiritually aren't really saved, somehow. I was reminded, actually, of Martin Luther's advice:

Whosoever accepts the Son and is baptized and believes on his Word will be saved....If you wish to escape from despair and hate, let your speculation go. There is no other way. Otherwise you must remain a doubter the rest of your life. God did not come down from heaven to make you uncertain about predestination or to cause you to despise the Sacraments. He instituted them to make you more certain and to drive such speculations out of your mind....Cling to the revealed God, allow no one to take the child Jesus from you, hold fast to him, and you will not be lost. The Father desires you. The Son wishes to be your Saviour and Liberator.
(Letters of Spiritual Counsel)

So, to sum up the book: the plot and characters were over the top dramatic, the book was preachy (as opposed to illuminating an inner spiritual journey), and I had real issues with the theology. As for the writing, I found the prose to be very readable but the plotting didn't seem particularly tight--the "Susie" subplot exploded pretty much out of nowhere late in the book. Overall probably about 2.5 stars but I had to choose between 2 and 3.

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