(Book review) All but normal


Reviewed by: Mary Clapp, former church librarian


Introduction

Title: All But Normal: Life on Victory Road, a Memoiranything

Author: Shawn Thorton with Joel Kilpatrick, foreword by Jon Eareckson Tada, afterword by Nick Vujicic

Publisher: Tyndale

Publication Date:2016

Format: reviewed softcover, but also available in hardcover and e-b00k formats

Length: 303 pages

OVERVIEW

This is the story of Shawn’s life growing up on Victory Road with his younger brother Troy, and parents, John and Bev. The story begins with the account of young John and Bev’s car accident that resulted in a trauma to Bev’s head. When she awoke from her coma she was never the same person again. She lived the rest of her life with violent mood swings and uncontrollable fits of rage. John married Bev and cared for her the rest of her life. This account of Shawn and Troy’s childhood years is troubling and realistically told.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5)

5 out of 5

Suggested Audience

This book would appeal to a wide audience. People serving in a church, people who work with with children, people who live with or help someone with a disability or mental health issue would benefit from reading this memoir. I would recommend it for a church library with one note of caution that their is some language and dialogue that could be offensive as the author gives a realistic account of  his childhood experiences.

Christian Impact

There are many, many examples of Christian faith weaved throughout this memoir. Despite everything else going in this family, their Christian faith is central and unifying for them. Shawn talks about how much he enjoyed going to church as a child because it was a safe place where he felt loved, accepted, and comforted “at least for a few hours.” (page 134)  Despite her difficulties, Bev found meaningful and helpful activities at church such as singing in the choir and teaching Sunday School. As a church librarian, I was struck by how much of a lifeline Christian books were to Bev. She had a heart for people who were hurting and overlooked and was able to pass that compassion on to her children. John, by staying faithful and disciplined, found the strength and patience to care for his wife and children under unbelievable and extremely difficult circumstances and is truly a role model for any parent or spouse. Shawn’s grandparents set an example of how to help a hurting family. They stepped in on a regular basis to help so that the boys always had  reliable help when needed including driving the boys where they needed to go and doing the families laundry. This account shows us that God cares about the difficulties we face in our lives and that he can bring good things out of our pain. Shawn is now serving as a senior pastor, is the voice for “All Things New” radio program, served on the boards for Awana Clubs International, and Joni and Friends, and maintains a blog at PastorShawn.com.

 


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