I'm not keen on most self-help books, because most of them are too gimmicky, too passing-fad oriented, and have very little new to offer. When a review copy of this book was offered to me, however, I accepted it for one reason: it appeared to be aimed, at least in part, at women in later years of their lives. No spring chick myself, I wanted to see what advice or insights this book might offer that others have missed.
When I first began reading, I was intrigued—for the reason mentioned above. Author Bette James Laughrun is 62 when she begins her story (she is 73 now), and feeling then that her life was already over. What kind of dream chasing can someone at that age possibly do? She had put aside goals and was more or less just winding down toward death. Her thinking was based on the life spans of her parents, who had passed away relatively early in life. She had a moment of realization that she was not too old to dream, after all, and from there her story begins.
Co-author Kathie Nelson is Bette's daughter, and her story is based on a dysfunctional childhood (no more than most, overall) and a traumatic accident that nearly killed her. Such near-death experiences can indeed bring powerful insights, so the premise for both authors to offer inspiring words is good.
As I read on, I began to realize this is not a mainstream self-help book. Wait a minute. This is a faith-based book. The overall message from these authors is to put your life in the hands of God and all will be well. Once it dawned on me that this book had a heavy religious under-text, I flipped to the front cover again, flipped to the back, looking for some clue about what I was getting into … and found no mention of its religious context. Not one mention had appeared in its marketing that this was a book with a religious message.
I have no problem whatsoever with such books. Faith works for many. Faith, religious or not, is a powerful tool for any change. I do have a problem, however, in false advertising. I felt duped. Had I wanted a faith-based book, I would have chosen one. The "blurbs" on this book and its covers need to be rewritten, and the book should be recategorized and given a new sales pitch.
Still, I had started in on it, so I was committed to finish the book. It's a short one, so it took me only a little over a day to read it. My disappointment continued. Faith-based or not, there was nothing here that I hadn't read in a thousand other places. Not one suggestion here went above the obvious. Consider the advice: have a positive attitude; life is a choice; give to others; be a kind and good person; nurture your relationships; get passionate about your life; spend some time in introspection about where you are and where you want to be; act on it. And so on. Does anyone really not know all this already?
I finished reading the book still wondering what was "outrageous" about any of its message. Both authors seem to have found new satisfaction in their lives, but they have done so with no new insights to offer their readers. More appropriate marketing of the book, as faith-based, would have been appreciated.
Bette James Laughrun is the founder of The People Builders, a leadership development group, and manages a nutritional cleansing business. Kathie Nelson is founder of Connectworks.
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