A shorter review of this book will appear early-summer in The Banner, the CRC-magazine based in Grand Rapids.
Praying for Strangers. River Jordan. Penguin. 336 pp.
Right around this time of the year many of us are once again finding that slip of paper on the dresser on which we’ve scrolled out “Resolutions 2011” followed by three or four bullet points: Lose weight; Get finances in order; Drink less caffeine. By this point we’ve completely forgotten that we even made them. Praying for Strangers isn’t the story of a woman who, after years of success with her own resolutions, decided to focus her attention elsewhere. In fact, quite the opposite. Jordan makes it very clear that she hasn’t actually followed through on a resolution until now.
I think the reason that these resolutions drop away regardless of my great intentions is because, ultimately, things don’t really have much to do with my real world, my day-to-day living. I’m not lunching with Italian spies followed by an invigorating game of chess as we discuss the possibilities of the reality of this thing called string theory. I need life to meet me at the crossroads of my daily existence, something that shouts back at me from the mirror in the morning. So resolutions, all these beautiful life-growing challenges, turn to dust.
But something about this year struck her. Maybe it was the fact that her life was changing drastically in such a short amount of time. Both of her sons deploying weeks apart is hard on a mother. Maybe it was the looming deadlines or the knowledge that she hadn’t followed through on a personal resolution thus far. Regardless, something about this particular year caused Jordan to take a step back from herself and decide, “this year is not going to be about me.”
To read the rest of the review, please visit http://lifebythebooks.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/how-to-pay-it-forward/