Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Cold Tangerines: A Book Review

This post is to participate in Sarah's Cold Tangerines Book Challenge. About a month ago, Sarah invited her Short Stop readers to read Shauna Niequist's first book and even got the publisher to send 30 of us a free copy (thanks Zondervan)! Sarah LOVED the book and wanted to share it with her blogging community, to get their reactions and opinions.
So without further ado, here are mine--

The enticing picture of the book and Sarah's excitement over it were intriguing. I enthusiastically signed up to participate. Upon further investigation, I learned that Mrs. Niequist had worked at some mega-churches, which was a bit of a turn-off for me. I admittedly have an aversion to them, which I know is judgmental on my part. But remembering the excellent preaching of my pastor in reminding his flock of the importance of "grace in the non-essentials," I put aside my personal views of such churches and plunged into the book.
I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but Cold Tangerines certainly WASN'T it. The subtitle of the book is "Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life." I think I was expecting some fluffy, yet encouraging, feel-good stories written by a young Christian mom. I was surprised at the gritty honesty of the author. Her ability and willingness to expose some of her insecurities, jealousies, and flaws were a bit shocking.
I honestly struggled to get through nearly the first half of the book. I found the author to be a bit whiny. But somewhere between the chapters entitled "brothers, sisters, and barbecues" and "confession,"
I got it.
Shauna Niequist is a woman like me.
Who am I kidding?
I'm whiny.
I could relate to the author at nearly every level that she chose to share with her readers. Coming off of the the hardest year of my life thus far, I could relate to her in her own personal tragedy of leaving a job even though she didn't quite want to. I could relate to her when she spoke of hating her body and not being kind to it. I could relate to her on feeling jealous of a good friend because she has it all together, except for this one thing that I have over her. (Oh wait, she has that too.) I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.
Shauna Niequist is a human being and she shared her humanness very candidly with the rest of us. For that I am very grateful. I found myself working through some of my own issues, as the author worked through her own. Very encouraging. Very worthwhile.
I had some difficulties with the style of the book. In particular, the author's excessive use of the word "and" when listing things, rather than using commas, was bothersome. I was also bothered by her lack of mentioning the name of Christ. She mentioned God often, and in today's culture, speaking of God is much more readily accepted than speaking of Christ. I believe Mrs. Niequist loves the Lord, but I found myself wishing she spoke of Him more in her writing.
This book isn't for everyone. If you're looking for a theologically meaty read, this is not your book. However, if you're looking for some short writings, almost blog-style, by a thirtysomething relatively new mom who has self image problems, a messy basement, and a fierce love of life, you should pick up this one. You won't be sorry.

To read more reviews, go to Short Stop and check them out at the side bar.


Lynn said...

Well written review. I, too, struggled to get through it at times (probably because I read it in one weekend). The fact that they are self-contained stories made it hard for me because I wasn't waiting to start the next chapter to see what happens next. Still, I enjoyed it overall.

Short Stop said...


What a thoughtful and well written review. I, too found myself all over the pages of the book. Thank you for writing a review and sharing your thoughts on the book.

Megan said...

Sounds interesting - I'll have to check it out! Thanks for the review!