Book Reviews: Grace Is Alive, Or Behave, Right Hand

April 29, 2019

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The Case For Grace by Lee Strobel

Miss Behave by Malebo Sephodi

Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Red Right Hand by Chris Holm


Lee Strobel is an experienced journalist as well as a veteran commentator on many matters Christian, and those skills are reflected in his writing style. The Case For Grace is a collection of case studies looking a number of individuals who have, they believe, experienced God’s grace in a real way. Stobel interviews them and collates the response here without too much embellishment. Much of the strength of the collection is in the variety and sometimes notoriety of Strobel’s subjects. One is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge’s Killing Fields, who sees a sees a former torturer from that regime come to Christ. One is the son of a famous evangelist who relives the story of the prodigal son. And one is Strobel himself, coming to terms with a debilitating condition that puts his life and marriage at risk. It’d be fascinating to read such out-of-the-ordinary non-fiction without the added twists of the protagonists’ sometimes (genuinely) miraculous about-turns, and Strobel ensures that each well-researched account is as factually compelling as it is spiritually provocative. And the lessons taught – via the experience of those interviewed – are challenging and exciting for believing readers. – BD


Miss Behave should be compulsory reading for girls and women, as a guide to self-realisation.  Malebo Sephodi exposes  stereotyping and patriarchy as an affront to women’s self-esteem.  Women are expected to conform to a mental picture that has been standardised in society since ancient times. The book deals with South African, predominantly black, women, for whom she provides counselling and offers lecture sessions. She is up against cultural values and her message is measured against traditions, political viewpoints, male domination, religious sentiments, workplace inequality, sexuality, language and racial issues. The list is long and gets longer as she explores societal realities that, when combined, hamper women in thinking for themselves. Marriage, male comforts, domestic chores and child care are the foremost duties a woman is expected to attend to, following the patriarchal origin of a woman’s role in life.  Sephodi dislikes the so-called self-help guides that mostly follow the paternal line of thinking for women to be accepted and respected. She shares her inner feelings with us, saying “To hell with all that historical junk!” She presents a wake-up call for African women and reveals her independent lifestyle as a biker, riding and servicing her own Kawasaki. The book aids in presenting an understanding of the complexity of our inter-racial, inter-gender society. – DB


Author Matt Haig has long suffered from depression, and has become a vocal activist for those in a similar situation, speaking clearly about the complexities of the condition and the pain caused by the insensitivies – intended or otherwise – of those dealing with sufferers in whatever capacity. He’s written novels that touch obliquely on the theme, but Reasons To Stay Alive approaches the subject more directly as an unconventional memoir detailing Haig’s personal experiences. It works brilliantly, largely because it’s not a continuous narrative that reads like the sob story of an individual desperately seeking sympathy. Rather, it’s a vehicle for Haig’s considerable skills as a writer and his empathetic wit; one aspect of the profound understanding of depression he has and the resulting knowledge of how best to handle it. This book is a succession of brief vignettes of his life as a depressive, highlighting a myriad facets of his experience, from the challenges of conducting relationships to the near-impossibility of completing everyday tasks such as buying milk from the corner shop. The range of perspectives – from apparently offhand anecdotes to obviously researched scientific interludes – is what makes this volume both an enjoyable read and a powerful tool for comforting depressed readers. There is something for everyone to relate to, and when dealing with a condition in which loneliness is perhaps the most widespread by-product of being sick, feeling like you belong is the closest thing to a cure many can hope for. Buy this, read it and keep it for regular reference – you’ll likely need it at some point. – BD


Those of us who remember the Death Wish movie will feel familiar and comfortable with the heartwarming plot of the good guy who takes revenge and fights a crime syndicate that killed a good friend of his. In Red Right Hand, another plot blends in when a tugboat, loaded with explosives, slams into a pillar of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. This introduces an act of terrorism and with it, the FBI and the city’s police departments. The good guy gets help from a young girl who understands the intricacies of computer and Internet matters. She gets into the crime syndicate files, exposing their planning and operation. There’s a lot of killing in the story, requiring a major clean-up. It leaves the reader exhausted, but satisfied that in the end, the world is a better place. The book follows a modern-day trend to make extensive use of info-tech trickery, which at times makes reviewing an act of faith when not understanding the subtle manoeuverability with which the plot is managed. Crime and crime fighting ain’t what they used to be. – DB[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”default_sidebar”][/vc_column][/vc_row]