Friday, June 25, 2010

Review: The Hole in our Gospel


A couple of months ago I read The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. Normally I would have moved on to my next non-fiction Christian book but this one caused a change in me - a real change. This book made such an impression on me that I found it difficult to get engaged with any other book.

The only part of the book I found distasteful was Mr. Stearns repeatedly (especially in the beginning) talking about how successful he was prior to becoming CEO of World Vision. I think that part could have been edited down significantly. The rest of the book though brings tremendous insight into what we can be doing today to alleviate hunger, poverty, disease, and the biblical basis for such actions.
If you've been on the fence about getting more involved financially or through volunteering to better the lives of the less fortunate that share our planet, this is the best starting place I have found. If you don't know where to start, this book will guide you.

The end of the book contains excellent reference material including Q&A with Richard Stearns, What are you going to do about it? (A guide to taking action), recommended books & movies, a 5 part study guide, notes, scripture index, and a general index. Midway through the book there are also several candid pictures of people featured in his stories.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold


The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is a book that caught my attention back in 2002 when it was released. At the time, although I was interested I couldn't fathom reading this book. It just seemed too unfair what happened to Susie Salmon, the main character. Yet, this book carried a lot of interest for me. I wondered how the author could write a book about a girl who gets brutally raped and murdered on her way home from school and yet keep her in the book as the main character despite her death.

Author Alice Sebold did an amazing job with this. Susie Salmon goes on to her "heaven" which does sound heavenly. Her family and friends are left to deal with her death. Each person handles her death differently and it's the interactions of the friends and family members that keep the book interesting.

From Heaven, Susie looks in on both her loved ones and her killer. Although this is not a *must read* in my opinion, it was a short read. Despite it's horrific beginning, the pieces come together at the end in a nice, happy way.

I look forward to renting the movie soon, which was released to DVD on April 20, 2010.

Excerpt can be read here:

DVD Trailer:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Review: Buddha's Orphans by Samrat Upadhyay


Buddha's Orphans is a circuitous story that takes the reader through the end of one generation to four generations later of a Nepali family. Focusing most strongly on the cultural expectations imposed by Nepali famlies on their children, you can feel the world changing through each generation. The second theme of the book focuses on the strong (and not so strong) bonds of family. A sprinkling of politics is thrown in as well.

Most of the book focuses on Raja and Nilu. Raja is abandoned by his mother in a city park while she goes on to drown herself. Raja, an orphaned infant is turned away at the local orphanage. The poor street vendor, Kaki, rejected by her own son, sees raising Raja as a way to correct any mistakes she's made in the past with her grown son, and struggles to raise him despite her very precarious economic situation.

From this point, Rajas life takes twists and turns through life, but by his side from childhood is his friend and true love Nilu. Their story together takes center stage throughout most of the book. The youthful love bonds that these two created were believable and I found myself reflecting on the crushes/close friendships I had with boys when I was a child.

Ultimately, can Raja's birth mother's mistake ever be rectified through future generations? That is the question the author works towards up until the final chapter.

The book does have some awkward sexual situations. Nothing really gets steamy or sensual. The author glosses over most sexual situations with simple to the point language.

Overall, I enjoyed the book but would liked more focus on Kaki and her first six years raising Raja. She is quite a character, my favorite of the book.