Poached Egg and Smashed Expectations?
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but if you’re as big an avocado fan as I am (and since before they were cool, I might add), it’s hard not to feel drawn to Is This It?
Written by Rachel Jones, it’s described as “a personal journey through the challenges of adulting, revealing the difference Jesus makes.” And as well as a corker cover, the book is also an early contender for best subtitle of 2019 with “The Difference Jesus Makes to that ‘Where-is-my-life-going-I-hate-my-job-I-have-no-real-friends-Is-God-even-here-Will-I-end-up-alone-I-wish-I-was-back-at-school-Will- this-ever-feel-like-home-Am-I-failing-at-life’ Feeling”.
Did you get that?
“Nothing was really wrong, but none of it felt quite right.”
Pitched at those navigating their twenties and thirties, Is This It? picks up on the notion of the Quarter Life Crisis (QLC), “the dawning realization that you’ve reached the age by which you assumed you would have it all figured out, only to find that you don’t”. To an older reader all this talk of millennials having a supposed “crisis” may seem like an overreaction. But as Rachel says, “We might be. But don’t dismiss the phenomenon out of hand. At least, it tells you some helpful things about what the 20-somethings in your church are feeling, what discipleship challenges they’re facing, and how the church can help.”
In truth, Is This It? isn’t really one book. It’s more like a rich treasure-trove of twelve mini-books, with Rachel boldly taking on a dozen of the most pressing realities of life as a twenty-to-thirty-something living at the back end of the second decade of the twenty-first century. Sharing her own struggles and conversations with friends, she applies biblical truth to each one in turn.
There’s the issues you’d perhaps expect: dissatisfaction (“Has everyone else got it better than me?”), self-doubt (“What if I fail in front of everybody?”) and singleness (“Why is everyone else getting married?”), but she also astutely covers areas I’ve seen very little written on from a Christian perspective: decision paralysis (“What should I do with my life?”), loneliness (“Who are my friends anymore?”), and even nostalgia & regret (“Remember that time when…?”).
This means that the book covers a considerable variety of situations and feelings, and is thus jammed pack with gospel insight. In fact, once you begin to read through a few different chapters, you realise this is a cumulative feast of practical theology. I found the chapters on doubt, rootlessness and marriage particularly useful. Unashamed in bringing the Bible to bear on these issues – and unafraid to look below the surface of our hearts, Is This It? is both empathetic and unshrinking in the way it calls the reader to immerse themselves in the radical gospel of Jesus Christ.
Buzzfeed, Bridget and Bible?
Without meaning to be derogatory, the punchy and chatty chapters of Is This It? give it something of the feel of a series of Buzzfeed articles (not least because of its opening ’31 Reasons You Might Need This Book’ quiz). Rachel is witty and honest, often in a self-deprecating way, delightfully sprinkling her inner thoughts and anecdotes kind of like a millennial Bridget Jones (again, a compliment!). Combine this with bucketloads of gospel wisdom and an evidently perceptive pastoral heart, and you have a fairly unique Christian book that is eminently readable.
Oozing authenticity, warmth and insight, if you’re looking for something to accompany you in the millennial complexities of your third and fourth decades – or to recommend to someone who is – then, this is it.
Pick up a copy of Is This It? from the publisher here.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this resource from the publisher, but I hope this is still a free and fair review.