Two for the Price of One: A Double Book Review

When I read a really good book, I tend to purchase many, many copies of said book, and hand it out like Halloween candy. Since I read an average of 140-150 books each year, I should be grateful that happens only about once a year. 

I joke that I should buy stock in those books so that I make money as I spend money.

Alas, I have not bought stock in the following two books, but I am recommending them ad nauseam nonetheless. 

Because these books are important.

1. Beholding and Becoming by Ruth Chou Simons. (Harvest House Publishers) 

This is a gloriously beautiful hardcover (gold leaf!) book. Ruth is an artist, and she paints gorgeous watercolors incorporating scripture, hymns, and quotes from famous Christians. So, even if all you did was purchase this book for its aesthetic value, your soul would be fed as you paged through the art.

And while I’d hope you’d enjoy the art, it’s the message of this book that will benefit and challenge any believer (especially woman) as they seek to worship the Lord in everyday life. 

Divided into 16 chapters, each one contains a “beholding” section and a “becoming” section. Each chapter encourages us to behold God as it focuses on one of His attributes. The second section of each chapter shows how that attribute applies to our life, and how the application will change our day to day existence. 

It is intensely spiritual, and completely counter-cultural in its thinking. 

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book are:

  • We are transformed into Christ’s likeness by looking intensely at who He is. 
  • Everybody worships; it’s just a matter of what, or whom, we serve.
  • Practice does not make perfect, it makes progress.
  • God uses imperfect families to reflect transformation through the saving and sanctifying work of the cross.

Each chapter has a few challenges, applications, and things to do. I used the book as a devotional over the course of several weeks as I started my new school year. It recalibrated my thoughts along the current of God’s thoughts and ways as found in scripture. 

At anywhere from $20-$30 (amazon currently has the best price) this volume would be a perfect gift for any woman in your life. The truths will also encourage the hearts of the men among us.

2. What is a Girl Worth? by Rachael DenHollander (Tyndale)

Beholding and Becoming is a sweet read to encourage and strengthen your soul and thus to change your life.

What is a Girl Worth? is a HARD read. It is horrifying. But it is a necessary book.

The tagline for the book is, “my story of breaking the silence and exposing the truth about Larry Nassar and the USA Gymnastics.” 

Most of our readers in the USA would have heard about the case against Larry Nassar in early 2018. You might even have listened to the impact statements from almost 100 girls and young women. 

This is Rachel’s story in that story. It’s a story of abuse and the long term effects and ramifications—for her, her family, her husband, her children, her church, her community. It chronicles an instance of abuse in the church, and then later abuse at the hands of a celebrated doctor.

It is a story of redemption and grace and forgiveness and justice.

It is the graphic story of the devastation of concealment and the power of the truth and light.

  • It chronicles a journey of guilt, devastation, and healing.
  • It answers the question of “why don’t abuse victims say something?”
  • It shows what it looks like when adults in authority do not properly respond to disclosures of sexual assault.
  • It reveals what happens when institutions (including the church) create a culture where a predator can flourish unafraid and unabated.
  • It exposes what it the consequences are when people in authority refuse to listen, put friendships in front of truth, fail to create or enforce proper policy and fail to hold enables accountable.
  • It an accounting of days worth of impact statements from hundreds of young women who survived sexual abuse. When there didn’t have to be hundreds.

You may choose to look the other way, but you never again can say you did not know.

William Willberforce

If you read this book, you will not be able to claim ignorance on this issue ever again.

I can guarantee that you won’t read this book unaffected. It will grip your heart in empathy and grief for these young women. And for all victims of abuse, sexual or otherwise, whose story has just been brushed aside. It will open your eyes, and soften your heart (if that is not already the case) for the men and women in your life who have suffered abuse.

I think that every church elder, every parent, every man, every woman-should read this book. 

I pray that it motivates each one of us to react differently when we are entrusted with a survivor’s story. It removes the if’s, and’s and but’s. It confronts our tendency to treat the abuser as the victim and the victim as the abuser.

It’s not fun. But, it is necessary.

I hope that you will add these two books to your personal library. I hope that as you read them, they will start important discussions. Discussions that lead to personal spiritual growth, and corporate spiritual growth. That we will truly be a reflection of Jesus Christ in all areas of our lives.

*If you are a victim of abuse, I would not recommend this book for you. Also, because of the graphic detail, it is not appropriate for children.

Bernadette Veenstra
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