Monday, May 29, 2017

English Lessons by Andrea Lucado

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook (May 2, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601428952
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601428950

About the Book:

The Questions Would Teach Her More Than the Answers
It wasn’t long after arriving in Oxford for graduate school that twenty-two-year-old Andrea Lucado – preacher’s daughter from Texas - faced not only culture shock, a severe lack of coffee, but also some unexpected hard questions: Who am I? Who is God? Why do I believe what I believe?
“So many nights in Oxford, I felt like the details of my faiths were getting fuzzier. Nights turned restless with the questions and the thoughts. I questioned God’s existence and the doubt, it was getting into my bones….”
In this engaging memoir, Andrea speaks to all of us who wrestle with faith, doubt, and spiritual identity. Join Andrea as she navigates the Thames River, the Oxford Atheist Society, romance in ancient pubs—and a new perspective on who God is. As Andrea learned, sometimes it takes letting go of old ideas to discover lasting truth.

My Thoughts:

Critiquing a person's memoir can be a tricky thing.  On the one hand, the thoughts, emotions and experiences shared are valuable and exposing one's self to the literary world can be daunting.  That persuades me to be gentle in my review.

Then again, the question remains: does the book live up to expectations, and is it well written?  Does it have a point other than just being another book on the store shelf?  And that's where my inner critic rises up and points at this and that and over there.

So I rarely take the opportunity to read and review a memoir, for just those reasons.  But I've read and loved Max Lucado's books from my college years into the present, so I was curious to see what his daughter had to say about faith.  And she went to England...there's that draw as well!

First and foremost, I'm grateful to my friends at Waterbrook Press for my complimentary copy with no services or obligations promised in return.  Without them offering "English Lessons", I very well might have missed a gem.

Does "English Lessons" live up to the description?  Yes, and no.  If you're reading it in order to find answers, you may be disappointed.  But if you're reading it to get a grasp on how a millennial processes faith and belief in God, read on.

Andrea is transparently honest in her journey.  She opens by sharing her early years at home, living in a pastor's house, being a pastor's daughter, and raised basically in two homes: the house and the church. Her memories triggered some of my own: I didn't grow up as pastor's daughter, but as a deacon's daughter, and the church was the hub of my life.

She shares her doubts, her rebelliousness, and her questions from those early years.  Then she transports us across the pond to jolly old England, with careful distinction between 'actual Oxford' and 'Oxford Brookes'.  (yeah, I didn't know there was a difference either!).

Lucado talks about culture shock, questioning her faith, her doubts, her concerns, and her qualms.  Her writing is lyrical and reflective, with hints of her dad's humor but a bit more weight to her words.  We meet friends she made along the lush, green path she traversed.

And, like Lucado, we come away with more questions than answers.  Here's the beauty in that, though: at the end of it all, she's still questioning.  Too many find the answers dissatisfying and walk away.  Andrea Lucado remains, and lives to question another day.  And you will find yourself nodding your head as some of the things you've kept buried rise to the surface because of her story.

From the breathtakingly gorgeous cover to the words found on the pages, "English Lessons" was a pleasant surprise.  It wasn't what I was expecting, but the book ended up being so much more than I could have anticipated.  I certainly hope this isn't the last we've seen of Andrea Lucado, the author.

So, I'm giving "English Lessons" my 'one to watch', as well as a hint of 'for such a time'.  We must engage with today's youth in order to understand them, and we cannot be afraid of questions.  God isn't, and if He can handle the doubts, qualms and concerns of today's new generation of believers, shouldn't we as well?

Until the next book...

Mark Your Place,




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