Review: The Broken Way

I’m pretty sure I’m going to make some enemies with this review. I can just picture the hordes of middle-aged Christian women and Christian mom bloggers hunting me down and swarming towards my door…in Jesus’s name.

Honestly, though, will someone please tell me why Ann Voskamp has such widespread popularity? I have heard her praises sung for years, and I finally read The Broken Way over the last few months, but I just don’t understand what all the hype is about.

First off, what is the deal with her writing? It’s so syrupy, sticky sweet. It’s flowery and redundant, and she takes forever to make a point–that is, if she gets around to making it. Sometimes it seemed like she was just describing her emotions around different events in her life.

The worst part of her writing was her nauseating use of wordplay. She used a few key word plays over and over throughout the book, but they were old and tired before the first two chapters were done. Her cutesy turns of phrase were so overwhelming, they drowned and muddled the clarity of her message. Has she never heard the concept, “less is more”?

Her descriptions and scene settings also threw me, since they often had little relevance to what she was trying to say. I get that in non-fiction, writers will often include descriptive details of their surroundings to anchor the reader to a certain concept or to contribute to a mood, but Voskamp’s descriptive details did neither of those things. They only distracted.

Towards the end of The Broken Way, Voskamp writes about the time she learned that sharing our own brokenness with others is essential to forming true communion with each other. That lesson is a good one, I’ll freely admit. However, as she narrated her process of discovery, she kept inserting details like this:

A car turns into the hospital parking lot below, headlights rending the dark and all the shaking down snow.

And then…

Somewhere an alarm goes off, signaling an empty IV bag.

I would dearly love to know how these details contribute to the mood and atmosphere of her moment of epiphany. Those details only tripped me up, jerking my attention away from her message.

However…now that you’re fully aware of my disdain for her writing, I have to say this: she did make some good points. Not a lot, but a few.

The Broken Way did remind me of things I had forgotten when I learned the importance of self-care during a time of grieving and postpartum difficulties. In my newly-learned practices of taking care of my own needs, I forgot that joy comes from serving others and giving sacrificially to serve the Gospel of Christ. I forgot that the wheat the brings forth an abundant harvest is the one that first falls into the ground and dies and is broken.

Ann Voskamp reminded me of that, and for doing so, I have to thank her.

She also spoke about community and finding joy in pain, both of which come from living “broken.” We have to take on the sufferings of Christ in order to partake in the joy.

These golden nuggets of truth, unfortunately, were buried beneath mounds of fluff and fodder. The Broken Way could have easily been condensed into a small pamphlet or a lengthy article, and it would have been vastly improved for it.

As valuable as Voskamp’s insights were in reminding me of truth, I could have reread any number of other books on the Christian life to gain the same profit. Maybe one of these days, I’ll review some of those books for you all here.

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