Thursday, September 01, 2011
Alison Strobel's Composing Amelia ~ Reviewed
By Alison Strobel
Published by David C Cook
Back Cover: Can a brand-new marriage withstand the weight of generations-old baggage?
Newlyweds Amelia and Marcus Sheffield are recent college grads, trying to stay afloat in LA while searching for their dream jobs. Marcus hopes to become a mega-church pastor. Amelia has an esteemed music degree, and longs to play piano professionally. The Sheffields are clearly city people.
But when a small town church offers Marcus a job, the couple’s dedication to their dreams and each other is tested. After a risky compromise is made, Amelia falls into a dark emotional place, where she finds skeletons she’d fought hard to deny. In desperation, she calls out to God. But why can’t she find Him? While Amelia struggles, Marcus learns news that nearly crushes him. He must lean on his faith to withstand the pressure… or risk losing his wife forever.
I’m thankful to have received a review copy of Alison Strobel’s powerful new book! I applaud Alison for her intimate portrayal of the internal struggle most Christians deal with at one time or another! The battle waged in our minds is huge! The lies we believe about others, ourselves and God is crazy! God’s word says that the truth will set the captives free! Alison Strobel shows the countless emotional layers we could go through to get to the truth that will set us free! It’s not easy but well worth the work to get to the truth.
I loved how Alison’s characters became aware of the lies they believed about themselves. This awareness started the renewing of their minds as they walked out of their captivity and embraced what Christ said they were; not man!
Amelia and Marcus are newlyweds starting a life together fresh out of college. Both want to help the other fulfill their dreams! They map out a plan and send resume’s to parts of the USA where Marcus can get a job as a Pastor and Amelia can pursue her career as a pianist! Both were rooting for the big cities so they could make their dreams a reality! Wasn’t God going to give this to them? After all they made a commitment to Him? Isn’t that how this Christian thing worked?
It’s hard to trust God when we don’t understand why stuff happens to innocent people? Amelia and Marcus expected God to provide help whenever possible to fulfill their dreams! Their calling! Shouldn’t we expect that from God? Aren’t Christian couples guaranteed a happily ever after?
This couple soon finds out that life doesn’t guarantee anything. Marriage takes work and sacrifice! They both start living a life they never thought they would. This wasn’t their game plan! I liked Marcus and Amelia and their gut wrenching honesty with each other, themselves and God. These characters were so real to me. I cared about them and their complicated situation. I also liked how they got mad at God; each had their own way of expressing these feeling.
Amelia says to herself, “If God thought He could fool around with her heart that way, then she’d fight Him for it…It’s my life, she reminded God in her angry head. And if you’re going to work that way, then you can just back off!”
I liked how they got real with each other. Marcus says, “The bottom line is that you’ve stopped trusting God. You don’t trust Him to lead you. You don’t trust Him to have a plan for your life that you’d actually love. You seem to think your future success rests solely on your own efforts!”
Alison captures the essence of how doubt enters our mind, and how quickly we start to put up walls to protect our heart and not let God work in our lives. We think we know better. Ouch! I’ve been there! Marcus nails it, “God’s ways are not our ways, Amelia love. And neither is His timing. We can’t see what He’s orchestrating behind the scenes!”
The emotions they dealt with as they peeled back the layers of their lives was raw. It’s easy to believe God when everything’s going your way but what do you do when it stops and live throws you a curve ball? God sees the bigger picture and can work through us in any circumstance, if we let Him. I enjoyed this author’s look at some common things couples go through. This is definitely Alison’s best book so far! I highly recommend reading it more than once (there is so much good stuff in there) and passing it onto friends!
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Bonus Review :
This book intrigued me from the title to the last chapter. It's a very raw and real look into the lives of a newlywed couple just out of college still trying to figure a lot of things out-things like how to compromise to make their marriage work, where their dreams will take them, and who they are...as individuals and as a couple in Christ. But when things happen, like Marcus getting offered a job as senior pastor to a small church in "middle-of-nowhere" Nebraska (hahaha) fresh out of seminary; and Amelia becoming pianist for a new musical theatre group in LA, their ideas on Gods will seem to conflict and collide. Ultimately deeper issues of insecurities and mental disorders are revealed....can they make it through and still remain faithful to each other and to their faith in the Master Planner, God? Find out by reading, 'composing amelia'. I really enjoyed this entire book-it went to some dark and difficult places that few dare to venture in. I was very impressed with how realistically everything is portrayed; and how, Alison gets across that though it doesn't always feel like God is there that He truly cares about us..God is the only thing that matters in the end.
Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker
Composing Amelia is a well-written novel that explores a lot of difficult issues. Prayer, childhood shaping, real “Christianity” vs. social, mental illness, marriage and faith, and each of these areas are handled with respect and an honesty that is refreshing. The trend of telling-it-like-it-often-is rather than the sanitized version of what it “should” be in Christian Fiction is an excellent trend. Why? Because stories should grab the heart, and a good story grabs the heart and hangs onto it. A story designed to tell the truth about life and the need we have to become better rather than victims is a good story indeed.
Good story that it is, Composing Amelia not without areas that could be controversial and challenging to those who prefer very sanitized stories. However, if you long for fiction that points to God and tells the truth about we complicated and challenging humans who need Him, get a copy.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer