1.31.2016

Life is Beautiful Review

*I was given this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Life is Beautiful: How a Lost Girl Became a True, Confident Child of God is the true story of Sarah Johnson and her life. While on an international mission trip, her family's plane goes down leaving fourteen people, including her brother and father, dead. The book documents Sarah's personal struggles related to her father's drug use, her aunt's death from uterine cancer, and her mother's long road to emotional and physical recovery after the plane crash. She herself struggles with depression and alcohol, eventually leading her to seek healing through God and therapy after hitting "rock bottom." It's a beautiful story of God's redemption in the midst of immense tragedy and it clearly demonstrates that even those of us who feel the most lost are not too far gone for God to reach.

While reading the book I was struck by how much this woman had to overcome so early on in her life. I'm not sure you can walk away from this book untouched by her personal story of redemption. I really felt like Sarah's vulnerability and willingness to open up about the darkest parts of her life isn't something you see everyday and it was incredibly refreshing.

The only thing about the book I really struggled with were the parts about Sarah's therapist. Don't get me wrong, I fully believe in the healing power of therapy and it's importance to overcoming addiction, grief, and so on. I wouldn't be pursuing my PhD in clinical psychology if I didn't believe in it. However, I also really believe in ethical practice and I felt like the therapist discussed in this book crossed the line a bit.

I should mention that I'm really sensitive to how therapists are portrayed because there have been so many negative portrayals in the media and pop culture. I'm not sure this book helps our case at all. Unfortunately, I felt the therapist overstepped her role by doing things such as going to the admissions office with Sarah as "a friend of the family, maybe a mentor" and writing her a letter of recommendation. I don't feel like these were appropriate actions for a therapist to engage in. I can elaborate on this further for those interested in why I feel that way.

The only other thing I would have changed were the photos in the book. The photos included were really great but they were way too small to see. They should have been made larger or left out all together.

Despite my qualms about the therapist in the book, I thought Sarah's story was incredibly moving. I don't want to discredit that. 

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