Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book Review: Faith and Other Flat Tires by Andrea Palpant Dilley

Faith and Other Flat Tires is the memoir of a girl who grew up in a very conservative Christian family as the daughter of missionaries, who began to question her faith as she matured.  The book follows Andrea from her childhood in Kenya to her difficult teen years to her rejection of faith as a young adult and her consequent return to faith.

I can't say I was really impressed with the writing.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either.  It read more like a journal than a book and the ending didn't provide much closure.  There was nothing about it that really turned me off in terms of style, but there also wasn't anything that really appealed to me about it either.

Entertainment Value
I thought I would identify with the author more closely than I actually did.  We had similar upbringings in very devout, conservative homes, although I never lived overseas.  But I just never really got interested in the story itself.  I always feel bad when critiquing a memoir and saying it wasn't interesting, but I found myself really struggling to get through the book.  I think much of that was based on the fact that this is a story I've read before, in many formats.  Nothing sets the author's experience apart from other stories of doubt and renewed faith, which is what I'm looking for in a memoir.  If I knew the author, I think her story would have a greater impact, but as a memoir, it isn't novel.  Also, as a spiritual memoir, I appreciate gaining new insight.  But in this case, I didn't feel like the author brought anything new to the table in terms of dealing with doubts.  In the end, I didn't really idenitfy with her and I didn't learn anything new from the book, which caused it to be something of a dud for me.

Look, it's not that I don't recommend this book.  It's a fine book.  I just think that there are many better memoirs of doubt written by masters like Os Guiness and C.S. Lewis.  It's not that I don't appreciate the author's story or that, as a believer, I don't think I should rejoice when anyone returns to their faith.  But I just think there are better books about the experience for serious readers.

Thanks to Handlebar Marketing for providing me with a review copy of this book.

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