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Back Roads to Belonging (Book Review)

By Benjamin H. Liles

          I want to paint a picture for you here: maybe you're a bit slow, possibly a bit "fluffy" around the middle, maybe not the smartest stack in the pile, or as some say, "A round peg in a square hole;" the point is made clear: "You're not wanted or desired here." Society does that to people. Pigeon-holing those they deem as weak. But God says, "I use the weak things of the world to confound the wise" (1 Corinthians 1:27). Even Jesus called twelve men, most of them fishermen to disciple them to reach out and be "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19).

          I start the review off to talk about Kristen Strong's Back Roads to Belonging in this manner to show why some books are the way they are. I always do the best I can to model my faith as well as what God commands in His word, "Live justly, walk humbly, and love mercy" (Micah 6:8). It's not always an easy or popular path either. So, let me go down this road a moment. Have you ever made a choice that was unpopular where no one wanted to choose you to be on their team? That's not exactly a sense of "belonging." So, I wonder the point of Kristen's book?

          As I sit here and reflect on fair and honest, as well as God's justice, His mercy, and to walk in humility I find myself asking one thing: How can I honestly give a book a good review so that others will read it themselves and to point others in doing the same? She starts off on the very first page, in the Introduction, "From the get go, I'm going to spell out for you one of my greatest fears in life...I fear I don't belong where I want to belong to." I believe we all have that same kind of justifiable fear, rightfully so.

          Also, Kristen does a tremendous job in pointing the reader where she wants them to go, but will the consensus of readers get the overall point of what she's saying? Again, my job is to give a fair and objective, honest review, not so much my opinion.

          I can and will say this, Kristen Strong does an amazing job showing compassion and care for others, faultlessly. She's also great at encouraging, no doubt. So, I can vouch for her on that. Even if it seems touch and go at the start of reading Back Roads to Belonging is a bit rough, stick with it; she has a point she's trying to make. It may take a stretch of road to get there, but get there she does.

          It reminds me of times my wife asks me a simple question and I preface my answer with back-story rather than give a simple answer. Why do I do that? Because my desire is for her to see my side of that same issue she's asking about. But some times that can frustrate others, and the same goes with readers; they want a point made and quickly. So, I say to you -- the reader -- pick up this book and decide for yourself if it's truly good to be paid for. For me, if I had to choose to review the book again, probably not, but I'm glad I did. Thanks for sticking with me.

          I received a complimentary copy of this book for a fair and honest review from Revell.

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