A Violent Hope

The author of this book, Ericka Clay, reached out to me to see if I would review her book for her. I agreed to review it, so she sent me a digital copy of it for review purposes.

As I began reading the book, I was a bit puzzled by the author’s writing style. It seemed rather choppy and overall seemed a bit confusing as it jumped from first to third person, back and forth. It took me a while to get into the flow of reading it. The more I read, the more I understood my initial confusion.

This book is not about a single person, and it is not a linear storyline. It includes the storylines of multiple people interwoven and presented in a past/present/future timeline fashion. Confused by that description? Let me try to clarify.

The initial paragraph introduces the reader to the character Mack. Mack is a boy of six when the book begins. Chapter two jumps to Mack as an 11-year old, and so on up to chapter five when Mack is an adult. During these chapters, the reader is introduced to other characters, and then after the fifth chapter, the reader is taken on a journey though the different characters stories, but the chapters jump from character to character along differing timelines.

As I said, I was a bit puzzled by the writing style, but when I realized how it was being written, I thought it a rather genius style for the purposes of this book. I would not recommend this writing style for a lot of different types of books, but for this one the style is quite appropriate.

To the subject matter. Honestly, this is a tough read. I am a pastor and I lead a congregation who sponsors a Celebrate Recovery program, a biblically based 12-step program for recovery. As I have been around people in CR, I have marveled at their stories of transformation. Many of their stories have had profound impact on my ministry and have really helped me be more understanding of how someone becomes an addict and makes me want to do more to help prevent the next generations from falling into the pitfalls which have led to addition, and worse, in this current generation.

A Violent Hope tells multiple stories, which when read together, are literally gut-wrenching. I see the stories of these characters being played out in the lives of the precious people attending Celebrate Recovery. It is painful for me to read this book, and it is difficult to read large chunks at a time.

There is a lot of very sensitive material in this book. I don’t want to give away the author’s plot lines, so I won’t discuss the topics here. I will say this though. Ericka has done a fabulous job of painting word pictures to leave the reader understanding what she is describing, without using graphic language for shock value.

I believe a lot of people who struggle with past difficulties and pains in life will likely find this a difficult read, even painful, as they may see themselves in the pages of the book. It is not a glossy, sugary-sweet story about how God makes all things great for His people in the end. However, if the reader will stick with the reading through the painful parts, my honest opinion is they will find exactly what the author intends. Hope for the hurting which is only found in the arms of Jesus Christ.

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