1. I’ve never read a book like this. Whenever I read a new book, my mind flips through my memories like a Rolodex, trying to find some other book to compare it to. This book is no exception. But I kept coming up empty. I could think of nothing. This originality was a rare gift.

2. It is well-written. It is not easy to find well-written books by Christians. This is a scandal within evangelicalism. But Russ is a great writer and this book is so well-written, it may spoil you. If I can’t wait to pick up a book again but I dread finishing it, I know I’ve found a great piece of writing.

3. The subject matter is critical. Western Christianity struggles with its faith. That faith is informed by the Bible. And the Scriptures were written for the most part in the context of suffering. And our entire culture is calculated to move us away from suffering in any shape or form. We need this fact to be kept in front of our faces, which are lulled into forgetting our mortality in this  Disney Land we reside in. Now there are a lot of books on suffering out there, but in this one, we get to walk though it with Russ. 

4. This is an honest book. Honesty and authenticity are getting top billing these days. For good reason. We need more contexts in evangelicalism in which we can say, “You too?” And “me too.” You can’t do that without honesty, and sometimes honesty costs a pound of flesh. I appreciate his (and his wife’s) honesty throughout the book, which I am sure cost them. 

5. Jesus is the hero. If you buy this book for no other reason, this should be enough. There are a lot of spiritual biographies and memoirish books in the Christian market. And they are honest and well-written. But few point to Jesus and his love for his people so well. I walked away from this book knowing Russ better but thankful for Christ and his redemptive work more. I know Russ well enough now to assume this is what he wanted.

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