I will spend twenty minutes looking for my favorite pen when a substandard pen sits idly by. (Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine Point just in case you’re wondering.) It’s crisp, it’s legible, but most importantly, it’s waterproof, so when I add yet another missing article adjective, or make yet another notation that the subject and verb don’t agree and end up crying tears of frustration because I’ve corrected the same exact mistake over and over and over the ink won’t run and make the pages all messy.
After a long day of proofreading essays, editing short stories, correcting spelling tests, rearranging doglegs on grammar diagrams, and giving red pen advice on formal lab reports my pen and I are exhausted. She’s been my ally in this campaign to actualize erudite minds; now it’s time for us to relax. I place her gently on my to do list, and I walk over to the stove. On my way I pick up One Thousand Gifts, and stand with one hand stirring the spaghetti sauce and the other opening the book.
I slide my finger to the bookmark and open to page 70 and begin reading, “What I am to do?” My brain screeches to a halt, and my instincts kick in. As the words unravel, I no longer accept any meaning, I only see the weirdness. I want to grab my red pen and in my exhaustion write in all caps: YODA ARE YOU? Perhaps if I wasn’t so wired to instruct, correct, and wage war on things like misplaced apostrophes it wouldn’t bother me. But I am. So I look up from the page and resist the urge to close the book. I just end up standing there with a spoon in one hand and a book in the other staring over at my red pen.
Ann Voskamp’s writing style is unique. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing? I doubt it; I think it’s just her thing. I admit that I had a really hard time reading her prose. Her writing is really weird! And some of her analogies and examples are kind of weird, too. This was a book club selection, and since I knew I would miss book club that particular month my motivation to finish the book was low. I almost gave up on this book. Almost.
But I have this rule. I found that as much as her writing style bothered me, I did like her and what she was saying. As I read more about her journey I felt that I got to know her better and the weirdness bothered me less and less. I had this feeling that if we were to meet in person we’d be friends.
I knew we’d be friends, because she says things like this:
“To receive God’s gifts, to live exalted and joy filled, isn’t a function of straining higher, harder, doing more, carrying long the burdens of the super-Pharisees or ultra-saints. Receiving God’s gifts is a gentle, simple movement of stooping lower.”
“It is by the very function of our being, not our doing, that we are the beloved of God.”
This is the kind of person that draws others in. Nothing weird about that.
So, even though my red pen instincts often battled with my heart, I enjoyed the book. It challenged me. That surprised me. I think I needed to be challenged. No. I know I did!
I give it an “I hope you’ll read it too” rating.