Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller, 3/5
Miller is an entertaining writer, but not a very convincing psychologist. While it is fun to read the story of how he developed a healthier approach to relationships and gradually found love at a relatively late age, I felt like he spent a lot of time answering easy questions I didn’t have while skirting around the most important, mysterious, confusing aspects of the topic. He claims to want to teach that “love is worth what it costs,” but the focus of the book is much more on how to pay the cost than the worth. For me, the real question isn’t what caused his previous relationships to fail and his current one to succeed (that is fairly obvious–turns out that authenticity and vulnerability make a better foundation than insecurity and manipulation), the big question is why did he suddenly feel compelled to make it work with someone in particular? Now that I’m thinking about it, this is the exact issue I had with the previous book on relationships I read. Perhaps one day, I’ll find a book that focuses on the why, not the how, but until then I guess I’ll just hope they are as entertaining as this one.
Why I read it: a family member recommended it to me.
I don’t think I’d ever read a “Christian romance” before, but now I feel as if I’ve read every single one ever written. Almost everything about this book was cliched, from the handsome widower trying to escape his grief to the beautiful and independent female doctor who develops an immediate (and spoiler temporary) disliking for him. To be fair, the archetypes were intrinsically appealing, it was a lot less preachy than could be expected, and there were even some artistic touches: an insightful sentiment here and there, or a deft description. But ultimately, nothing could compensate for deficiencies of plot and characterization, which were contrived, worn-out and predictable all around. The plot was especially lame–a Nancy Drew take on National Treasure with some “Touched by an Angel” thrown in; however, as an antidote to my last read, Kafka, it was not entirely unwelcome.
[Why I read it: my brother’s mother-in-law thought I might enjoy it and thoughtfully gave me a copy. There was no dust cover, so I thought it was historical fiction…]