To give full disclosure, I received a free copy of The Return from Baker Books in exchange for an honest review. This is my second book I have read from Lacey Sturm. She continues to wear many hats being a wife, a mother, a singer, a songwriter, and an author. None of it appears to slow her down.
I last read about Lacey in my review of her first ever published work back in 2015. Three years since that review has shown me how much change has happened in Laceys life. She released her first solo project album titled, Life Screams in February of 2016. In October of that same year she published her second book titled, The Mystery. In the spring of 2018 she has been touring much of the United States with her rock band. On top of that she has released her third book titled, The Return. This latest title continues to stick with the pattern of having only two-words.
The front cover is her best looking one yet. An artistic font splashed with a tone of gold over a black and white photo of Lacey should capture most eyes. The Return claims to be a collection of Sturms thoughts on how Jesus helps us see the world with new eyes and makes the mundane things in life beautiful. It does exactly that, but not in the way I was hoping for. The Return is not so much a story as it is reflections of Sturm giving every aspect of her life back to God. To some degree, her reflections have teachable moments. It's 13 chapters carries a consistent format of a reflection, journal, poem, devotional, prayer, to-do list, song idea, and recipe.
Sturm provides glimpses of the beautiful yet challenging sides of her relationship and identity in Christ. Considering she was once an atheist in her teenage years, her transformed life is nothing short of incredible. There is something contagious and inspirational about Sturm's dramatic change. A once lost broken depressed girl, to now a radiant joyful woman. From once wanting to take her own life, to now a life full of love and wanting to give it all back. Her pursuit of Jesus is evident through her written songs, poems, devotions, and journal entries. The various artwork and drawings made this a faster read than most books over 200 pages.
The artwork, style, and format within these pages are some of the most gorgeous displays I have seen in a book. Sturm does not conform to most book formats and splashes her own style and personality in it. The creativity found in these pages also reflects the creative ways she views her life with Jesus. This adds an element of inspiration to readers that find themselves stuck in mediocrity. Sometimes the monotony and repetitive nature of life can blind people from seeing how beautiful and rewarding it can be. Sturm helps readers push the boundaries of a life that too often tries to box us in. Her passion restores peoples sight through her words. Her simple pleasures of resting in Gods promises shows readers that the Christian life does not have to be a complicated one.
We can never repay God. But as we catch glimpses of his great love for us, we can never help but want to love him back. - page 52
It struck me how God will not ask if we got the laundry done, how many books or blogs weve written, how many songs we know or sang, if we ate healthy, or if we made people happy. These are questions people around us ask that make us feel guilty and enslave us to their opinions of right and wrong. No. God wont ask about our earthly achievements that are important in the worlds eyes. He will ask about our souls growth that is measured by his gaze where no one else sees, in moments the world may even scoff at or ridicule as a waste of time or irresponsible. He will ask if we learned to love. - page 224
With a collage of so many various writings, there is no real cohesive story. She took a different approach than from her previous works. This approach works for some readers. It offers a personal side of Sturm nobody has seen before. I appreciated seeing and learning about this side of her, but I still felt unsatisfied. I was hoping for more of a collection of personal stories. Not so much a collection of poems, to do lists, devotions, song ideas, or recipes. Some readers may too walk away unsatisfied in the sense that there is no real coherent story arc. The hope was to read new stories from her life, but it is only her reflections and journal entries that were the closest offerings. That was about it.
I would also caution Sturm in page 78 where she mentions, for we are His little gods,... While she is correct to reference John 10:34 when Jesus quotes David in Psalms 82:6, she uses an incorrect definition of being a god. That word carries a meaning of having a position of authority. I only warn of this because readers new to their faith in Jesus may misunderstand what Sturm is trying to say. It is also not true if she does in fact consider everyone as little gods. Yes we all represent the image of God. But the title of being a god is actually a title meant for the appointment of people in positions of authority.
The Return unfortunately travels in too many directions which sometimes creates a confusing experience. The formula used is enough for readers to appreciate Sturms creative writing. This collage of unique content may satisfy some audiences such as teens and young adults. It could even be fun for readers to try out some of her recipes. But with a lack of recent stories from her life, this was not the type of content I was expecting. I see this book more as a beautiful compilation of artwork and devotional writings. I have not reviewed The Mystery, so it is not fair to suggest which of her three books is my favourite. Especially since they all have a unique message and style. I will say that if I had to choose between The Reason or The Return, The Reason is still her finest work to date.
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