30/12/2011

Let's Get Real (by Dale and Jena Forehand)

Every so often I browse the Kindle books which are available free at Amazon. In addition to many classics, there are often some books on special offer for a short period. One such, in the Christian lifestyle section, was by a couple I had never heard of: Dale and Jena Forehand.

The subtitle to 'Let's get real' is 'Bringing authenticity and wholeness to your marriage', a title which appealed on several levels. So I've read it, off and on, over the past month or two. I can't say I found it particularly great. The beginning of the book certainly drew me in, describing as it did the total breakdown of a marriage, followed by divorce... and then, soon after, a tentative reconciliation, gradual healing, and then a fulfilling remarriage. However, the book isn't necessary to read about that, since it's described fairly fully on the website linked to above.

The rest of the book, theoretically, shows couples how to keep their marriage strong, or recover from problems. Topics include the need for forgiveness, and what it means; having a safe place to express oneself; avoiding shame, and more. Nothing wrong with any of that, but it all seemed very basic to me - there really wasn't anything about enriching a marriage with new levels of wholeness or authenticity.

I don't think I read anything in this book which I hadn't already come across in various other books about marriage. There are plenty of Scripture references, which is fine as a basis; but I actually felt that there were too many mentioned in the text itself, rather than referenced with footnotes. That was only a minor gripe, and would not really have been a problem; far more annoying was that the book was peppered with questions - personal and for discussion - some at the end of chapters (which, at least, I could skip) and some in the middle. They were not even interesting questions, but the kind of comprehension busywork that children in primary school might be expected to do: 'match these four principles up with the four Scripture passages', or 'draw a ring around the correct answer'. Bad enough in a book, quite ridiculous in a Kindle edition.

Less of a problem - but also a bit annoying - is that the book was not correctly formatted for the Kindle. What would have been boxes, or perhaps highlighted text in the book form just appeared as extra text, which was very confusing until I realised what was going on.

As a free download, I really can't complain - and, to be fair, the advice given might be useful to anyone who has not read any other books about marriage. But I'm not entirely sure why yet another book on the topic is necessary; it would have been more interesting with more personal anecdotes and less 'teaching'.

Not really recommended, unless it becomes free to download again. Links are to the book versions since Kindle editions are country-specific.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 30th December 2011

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