vision of God’s design will leave many
people wondering if they can aspire to
such heavenly standards in earthly relationships. Still, he is gentle with his
rebuke, giving relevant, humorous, and
eminently practical advice. Conservative
Christians will find Chandler’s words on
continuously kindling the fires of love
hopeful and helpful. Others may also
glean some advice from a guy who sounds
like he is there in the trenches with you.
God, Faith & Identity
from the Ashes: Reflections
of Children and Grandchildren
of Holocaust Survivors
Edited by Menachem Z. Rosensaft. Jewish
Lights, $25 (352p) ISBN 978-1-58023-805-2
In this important and poignant collection of thoughts and memories from
descendants of Holocaust survivors, 88
men and women from around the world
share personal, often heartrending reflections. As their parents and grandparents
age and pass away, these adults remember
the palpable darkness and shadows of fear
that haunted them. Contributors were
asked “how their parents’ or grandparents’
experiences and examples helped shape
their own identities and their attitudes
toward God, faith, Judaism, the Jewish
people, and society as a whole.” The
answers, some short, others longer, are all
brutally honest. Whereas some found
faith and a spark of hope amid the carnage, others lost religion entirely, and still
others lament how similar tragedies could
unfold in the aftermath of “never again.”
Readers may shed tears of sorrow, but will
be inspired by the strength and courage of
this worthy volume. Elie Wiesel contributes a prologue. (Jan.)
The Grand Paradox:
The Messiness of Life,
the Mystery of God, and
the Necessity of Faith
Ken Wytsma. Thomas Nelson, $22.99 (224p)
God can seem mysterious and distant
sometimes, even without being absent.
That paradox is just part of faith, says
Wytsma (Pursuing Justice), a pastor and
founder of the Justice Conference. God’s
ways are different from the world’s, so
believers should expect some contradic-
tions about how to find happiness. He
encourages the reader to embrace and
explore questions, rather than brush them
aside. Learning how to trust, even when a
leap of faith seems counterintuitive, is the
key to moving beyond human under-
standing and pursuing a closer relation-
ship with God, he says. Questions about
God and purpose amid the messiness of
life can be answered by focusing on Jesus
and finding joy in following him,
Wytsma asserts. Grounded in examples
from scripture and life experiences, his
honest exploration of the questions and
doubts Christians have speaks to both
newer believers who might not fully
understand their faith, and also to long-
time followers who have gotten off track
or are looking to understand why they
believe. Agent: Don Jacobson, D.C. Jacobson
& Associates. (Jan.)
A Guide to Radical
and Complete Forgiveness
Richard Smoley. Penguin/ Tarcher, $16.95
(176p) ISBN 978-0-399-17213-7
Taking a brief detour from his usual
writing on esoteric spiritual topics,
Smoley (Inner Christianity) offers a more
psychological perspective in this short,
superficial look at the power of forgiveness. Smoley’s proposed key to happiness
is succinct enough that he explains the
whole concept in his second chapter. This
is the Deal: a nine-step process for forgiving all others and accepting forgiveness for yourself, which Smoley says will
change you for the better. Instead of
offering contemporary examples of ordinary people who have been helped by this
exercise, or significant evidence that this
sort of cognitive restructuring has proven
effects, though, Smoley offers notes about
karma, A Course in Miracles, and fairly
mundane acts that are not difficult to forgive: examples include a broken pair of
glasses and neighbors who play loud
music. He saves more convincing historical examples, including Christ and
Lincoln, for the second half of the book,
where he also entertains questions in an
engaging q&a format. Always provocative, Smoley asks important questions but
offers an inadequate foundation for his
answers. Agent: Laurie Fox, Linda Chester
Literary Agency. (Jan.)
The Glittering World Robert Levy. Gallery, Feb.
Doing the Devil’s Work Bill Loehfelm. FSG/
Sarah Crichton, Jan.
Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse Mike Befeler.
Five Star Publishing, Jan.
Watch Me Go Mark Wisniewski. Putnam, Jan.
The Assassination Option W. E.B. Griffin and
William E. Butterworth IV. Putnam, Dec.
So I Began Lisa Lubasch. Solid Objects (SPD,
Trespass Thomas Dooley. Harper Perennial, Oct.
Eros Is More Juan Antonio Gonzáles Iglesias,
trans. from the Spanish by Curtis Bauer. Alice
James (UPNE, dist.), Sept.
Underground: New and Selected Poems Jim
Moore. Graywolf (FSG, dist.), Sept.
Art Schooled Jamie Coe. Nobrow Press, Nov.
Doctors Dash Shaw. Fantagraphics, Oct.
Murder Me Dead David Lapham. Image, Aug.
Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save
Yahoo! Nicholas Carlson. Twelve/Hachette, Jan.
The Best Writing on Mathematics 2014
Edited by Mircea Pitici. Princeton Univ., Dec.
The Blues: A Visual History—100 Years of
Music That Changed the World Mike Evans.
Say What You Really Mean! How Women
Can Learn to Speak Up Debra Johanyak.
Rowman & Littlefield, Dec.
Deep Space: Beyond the Solar System to
the Edge of the Universe and the Beginning
of Time Govert Schilling. Black Dog & Leventhal,
Scars & Stripes: The Culture of Modern
Roller Derby Andreanna Seymore. Schiffer, Nov.
Hell-Bent: One Man’s Crusade to Crush the
Hawaiian Mob Jason Ryan. Globe Pequot/Ly-ons, Nov.
Father and Son: A Lifetime Marcos Giralt Tor-rente, trans. from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer.
Perfectly Miserable: Guilt, God, and Real
Estate in a Small Town Sarah Payne Stuart.