Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Review: Not A Silent Night

"Not A Silent Night" by Adam Hamilton is not what I expected.

I chose to read this book because I recently acted out a skit where I played Mary, reflecting on the birth of Jesus. I thought this might be a delightful read, but I was disappointed.

Dawn’s Recommendation: 1 Star out of 5

What I liked: It was a short read. I liked the cover. I loved the one opening paragraph, it had a great hook. I enjoyed the section on how Jesus astounded the temple priests (as a 12 year old), how Jesus dumbfounded them and even scared them a little with his knowledge and understanding. But, that's about all I liked.  I gave a low rating due to expectations the title sets for the book (more on that later).

What I didn’t like: First, I think the author was trying too hard to be innovative, starting Mary’s reflections at the end of Jesus life and moving backward. Not sure why he did that, except to maybe make it fit for Christmas. I know my brain likes to move in order of events.

Also, because little is said about parts of Mary’s life, I felt like the author added filler that was distracting. Like, the speculation of where and when Mary died according to Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

I would have liked to read more about what Mary’s inner thoughts might have been. The sub-title of the book, “Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem”, led me to believe that the book would be more like that: Mary’s reflections. Often the book read more like a sermon. 

Overall, it was just not what I thought it would be. I don’t enjoy giving a poor book review and I think the main reason I didn’t like the book is because the title misleads readers. A title sets an expectation. “Not A Silent Night” sets the expectation that I would get to read more about Mary’s thoughts, struggles, and worries surrounding Jesus’ birth (or even leading up to it). The sub-title “Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem” sets the expectation that readers will get Mary’s reflection (and insight to her thoughts). Both titles would lead the reader to believe the whole book was about the birth of Jesus.  Only one section is about that, the rest is about moments in Scripture where Mary is with Jesus -- throughout his life. If the title was: “Moments with Mary and Jesus” or something that fit better – I’d have given it a much higher rating. It’s not a bad book. It’s well written. It just didn't meet my expectations.

Note: The book got high recommendations from many reviewers on Amazon. Hmmm?

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?

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