Opening statement: Our February book club pick was 'Glorious Weakness: Meeting God in all we lack' by Alia Joy.
What does the book promise to deliver to the reader? This book is an exploration of what it means to be "poor in spirit" and how being vulnerable and authentic with ourselves, those around us and with God and being 'weak' by society's standards 'does not disqualify us from inclusion in the kingdom of God-instead, it is our very invitation to enter in' (quote from Google Books).
Does it accomplish what it sets out to accomplish? If so, how? If not, what could the author have done differently? The book does not promise an answer but rather takes the reader on a journey through the events of Alia's life that made her feel weak and shows that it is when we struggle through our own moments of weakness and times of lacking that we, the poor in spirit, become rich in God's kingdom.
Alia states very early on that she is not a guide as she hasn't 'arrived' or finished her journey yet so we are to instead think of her as a companion, someone to walk this journey of suffering, weakness and lack with and know we are not alone in those experiences and emotions.
What makes this author uniquely qualified to write on this topic? There are many books written about how to overcome pain and suffering and how to have faith to be healed from a variety of pains but Alia is different. She isn't unique in her experiences but she is unique in the way she addresses those painful times and how she doesn't offer up 5 'get fixed quick' tips but rather shows us it's 'okay to relent to sadness, to doubt, to the divine ache.... We can lie on a gurney with God and allow sorrow and suffering it's due' (pg.150).
What is the tone of the book? Due to the nature of the topics raised in the book, the tone is sincere and serious. She doesn't try to make the reader comfortable (which has it's pros and cons), but just says it how it is.
Overall impression: Although it was a hefty read, I found myself wanting to keep reading and ended up highlighting more of the text than I left unhighlighted. I have not experienced a lot of what Alia has spoken about but have personal experience of chronic illness and have grappled with the 'why me?' and 'why aren't You healing me God?' sort of questions which Alia also wrote about.
Each member of the book club had different thoughts and feelings towards the book. Some felt that the negative experiences were dwelt on for too long, making reading the book a 'sometimes depressing experience' but we came to discover that this is the message of the book-we shouldn't rush on past the painful parts because God is in those as much as He is in the good and joyful parts of life. He experienced an immense amount of suffering and didn't have the 'cup' taken away so He 'gets it'.
Overall, all members of the book club appreciated reading the book and took alot away from it.
Was the book written in a way that you as a reader could easily relate to? Alia has clearly experienced a lot in her lifetime including physical and mental illness, grief, financial poverty, miscarriage and bullying. Many of the book club members have experienced more than one of those so we could all relate to Alia at more than one time in the events that she wrote about in the book.
What was your favorite part of the book? The suggestion that our lack is not something that takes us away from the perfection of who God is but rather that our 'deficiency (is) the strongest thing about (us) beacuse God is present in (our) lack' (pg.169). 'Pain is not without purpose. Weakness is not the goal, it is simply the inevitable state of humanity. But the by-product of having God redeem our weakness instead of removing it is that we are made strong in Christ' (pg.170).
Do you have a least favorite part of the book? There wasn't a part that any of us found we didn't agree with or didn't 'like' but we all thought that due to the nature of some of the topics brought up, there should be trigger warnings before most chapters as baby loss, sexual assault, suicide and other sensitive subjects are brought up frequently throughout the book.
If you could change something, what would it be? The only possible change I would make would be to add a bit more content to the final section as I would like to have a bit more written to summarise Alia's experiences and what she has learnt through it and more about hope in our times of suffering, weakness and lack.
Are there photos or illustrations? If so, are they effective in enhancing the book’s message? N/A
Would you recommend this book? I would recommend this book but as many members of the book club pointed out, it would have to be carefully recommended as it might not be suitable for people who are struggling with some of the sensitive topics written about in the book without having a counsellor or support as they read.
What type of reader would enjoy this book? As our book club found this book helpful, I would suggest that a wide variety of people could find this book helpful however, as Alia points out early on, this book is not for everyone due to the nature of the topics.
An overview summary from a book club member.... 'My main takeaway from this achingly raw and vulnerable writing is that whatever trauma life throws at me, however lost or insginificent I may feel, or how distant I may be from God, I have been reminded by Alia that I am beloved, I belong and I am mysteriously held in a divine embrace.'
We do not feel that we give this book a rating out of 5 stars due to the nature of the book but as the only qualm we had was about the lack of trigger warnings, you can guess that we would rate it fairly highly.
Posted: 05/03/2021 11:28:12 by
You Belong Filed under: book, club, reading, review