Book Review: Heroes and Monsters

My 2021 To Be Read (TBR) list is looking rather festive, how about yours?

I’ve got fiction and nonfiction, personal development and biographies, and even a couple of books about writing. I realize that last one will seem exciting for some of you and extremely redundant for others, akin to metacognition – thinking about thinking. I purchased several with birthday/Christmas money at the end of last year, and have acquired several more via Audible and mommy-daughter dates to Barnes & Noble with my girl, our favorite!

I’ve wanted to incorporate some book reviews for my readers, just in case you wonder what I’m injecting into my brain lately, and also in the case that you’d like to do the same or avoid it.

Late in 2020, I read Heroes and Monsters by Josh James Riebock (2012, Baker Books) and absolutely devoured it, it was so delicious! Five stars, highly recommend.

Why? I’ll narrow it down to three reasons, though they are countless. (Pray forgive my writing today, I’ve been listening to Jane Austen, Dear Reader.)

  1. Riebock’s depiction of Jesus, whom he calls Jack throughout the book. It’s not only the re-naming of Him, though I thought that brilliant, it was the way he described Jesus as a friend in the room. “Josh sat next to so-and-so” for example. And it really made me re-think how I talk to Him and treat Him. I’m reminded not to merely talk about Him, but directly TO Him, because … well, because I can. Do I need another reason?
  2. Brutal vulnerability bordering on self-debasement. No holier-than-thou in this author’s tone to be found, he draws the reader to her own self-reflection and candor. If there’s one thing I love about a writer of memoirs, it’s the balance between character (as in personal, not fictional) development and transparency. And for memoirs to feel relatable and realistic, the author must master the telling of both.
  3. Illustrations. I know, “how unexpected” you’re thinking, but it’s true. I truly admired and appreciated throughout the creativity and novelty of Derek Geer’s illustrations that helped to tell the story Reibock was weaving. Apparently, I’m not too old to enjoy an illustrated book!

As a brief summary, in case you’d like to check it out, Heroes and Monsters tells the life story of the author, from childhood, and how his faith was found, lost, rediscovered, and strengthened. It’s probably all of our stories, if we think hard enough about it. The ways in which Jesus makes Himself real to us, individually, uniquely, strangely, in curiosity and wonder and pain and healing, and it’s all so lovely, now isn’t it? Riebock explains his difficult childhood when he was exposed to alcoholism and hoarding, an even more difficult adolescence and still more troubled young adulthood, with instances of Jesus reaching through the trials to reveal His love and guidance in the form of imaginary monsters and apartment-invading cows.

Here’s one passage I truly enjoyed, a conversation with Jack:

“I want you to let me love you. I want you to give me every part of you, the good and the bad, the exciting parts and the shameful parts, the things that you can’t wait to wake up to and the things that keep you up at night. I want all of you.”

“Kind of demanding, don’t you think? All of me?”

“And you think I deserve less than that?”

… “Intimacy isn’t fair. … Intimacy is about what’s real. Sometimes the difference between intimacy and unfairness is simply a matter of perspective.”

“I guess so.”

– Heroes and Monsters by Josh James Riebock

So, now, I’d love to hear from you? What’s on your 2021 TBR list, and have you read Heroes and Monsters yet? If not, do you think you’d like to after reading my review?

And oh by the way, could you do me a quick favor? I promise it only takes 30 seconds. Would you please subscribe by putting your email into the box? That helps ME communicate well with my readers, as well as gain standing in the writing industry, and it helps YOU catch all of my fun words. Thanks!

With love from my nest,

Robyn

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