Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Review: "Scary Close" by Donald Miller

Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy Donald Miller
Published: February 3, 2015
ISBN: 9780785213185
Genre: Memoir
Source: Personal Copy
Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Other books by Donald Miller, books about relationships, self-discovery, real-life and realistic love stories.

Summary:
When fling after fling led to lots of drama and a long series of heartaches, Donald Miller decided he d had enough. There must be a better way to soothe loneliness without jumping on a roller coaster, to feel affirmation without putting on a show, to find true love. It wasn t just about finding the right girl, though that helped. Once he found her, he had to know what to do or"who to be."A manipulative control freak? A successful workaholic? His usual methods had drawbacks. But the alternatives were not just hard to do; they were hard to imagine.

My Thoughts:
This is actually a difficult review for me to write. On one hand, I really enjoyed this book and thought it to be one of the best by Donald Miller  On the other hand, there were issues around the book that make it difficult to describe and, in some cases, recommend this book.

I am a fan of Donald Miller's books and I find each one to be better than the next.  Because he's written so much about his life, I really feel like I know the guy and, reading his latest book, feels like I'm catching up with a new friend.  I also really admire his willingness to admit his own faults, something that is paramount in this book.  Miller has a sense of honesty that is hard to find in most other writers.

The gist of this book is how Donald Miller realized that he was sabotaging his relationships and what he needed to do in order to have a healthy relationship, and how that played out with his now-wife, Betsy.  His prose is clear and conversational, as we've come to expect from his books.  Miller also does an admirable job of conveying information he gleaned from reading books and talking to friends and experts in a way that it doesn't come off as an info dump to the reader.

I found myself more invested in his love story with Betsy than I thought I would.  It is no secret that he marries her, yet I still found myself hoping that he wouldn't screw things up as one would expect in a novel.  Even though that was not the case, I was still hooked all the way to the end.  And, as an aside, be sure to go to the website on the last page and check out the wedding pictures!

Yes, I loved this book--but here are my issues.  First of all, this book is marketed as "Christian Living," which I find misleading.  There is nothing wrong with that genre--but this book doesn't really fit into it  This book isn't about Christianity or faith.  Yes, those issues come up, but it a completely personal, "this is what I believe," non-converting way.  Donald Miller's faith is one more thing that makes him who he is, just as he is a writer or a native Texan or what not.  At no point in this book, does he ever say anything that should make someone who is not Christian or not religious uncomfortable.  His discoveries and advice are universal, regardless of belief.

I opted to call this book a memoir, although there is a definite relationship/self-help vibe about it as well.  Yet, it is much more "here's what I discovered and how it worked in my life" than "what you need to do," that I don't think I could go so far as to call it an actual self-help book.

Now, as to who I think would enjoy this book.  If you've read and enjoyed Donald Miller's other books, then yes--read this.  It is the natural "next chapter" in his life.  If you are in a happy relationship or have had some unsuccessful relationships in the past, but feel you are now ready for a happy one, then read this book.  But...if you are happily single, I'm just not sure if there is anything in this book for you.  I don't think that there would be any harm in reading it, but I also don't know if you'd get anything from it.  If you are in an unhealthy relationship, however, I would be reluctant to recommend this book.  I think that once you get that point, you are past what this book can offer you and, trying to apply Miller's advice at that point, would actually mask deeper issues (I think...every relationship is different, of course.  This is just my suspicion.)

As much as I enjoyed this book, I do feel I have to be careful about recommending it.  For some people, this is an excellent book--for others, maybe not. For me, however, I'm going to go put this on my husband's bedside table.

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.



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