4 out of 4 stars
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Michael Neil Cohen's My Road Home: From Secular Jew to Anglican Priest to Fulfilled Jew in The Land of Promise is a non-fiction book that narrates the author's life story. This thought-provoking memoir chronicles the author's childhood, his troubled teenage years, his journey to priesthood, his life in Israel, among other topics.
The author was born in North London during the post-WWII years. Early on, he learned that being a Jew during the post-war years wasn't ideal. His father even changed the family name so that his children wouldn't live with the stigma of being Jews. As he grew up, the author developed an identity crisis. Since his family showed no religious inclination, the author could neither identify with the Jewish community, nor the ruthless nuns who ran his school. That set the pace for a journey of discovery which sent him to far away lands.
The author's candid tone sheds light on depression, and he also reveals some of his coping mechanisms. I empathised with him as I read through his dark times. His determination to better his life, enhanced by his open-mindedness, led him on a lifelong pursuit of excellence. I like that he also tackled the shift in family dynamics sparked by a member's conversion to a new religion. Readers who have faced similar circumstances will resonate with the author's words. I found it useful that the author highlighted significant events that occurred in the '80s and '90s as they provided a welcome history lesson. The book has an overall positive tone with occasional humour, and I'm glad that there isn't any self-pity.
I was most surprised by the author's decision to join the Anglican church since I didn't see it coming. His devotion to strengthening his spiritual life will inspire readers to reflect on their lives. He studied the Bible diligently and often contrasted Judaism to Christianity. Since the author spent most of his adult life working with religious organisations, he shares first-hand experiences that will come in handy for anyone seeking information about the workings of the Church of England. The text also contains occasional Bible verses, which aren't overbearing. Hence, readers who aren't familiar with scripture will have no trouble.
Although the author converted to Christianity, he never forgot his Jewish roots, and that is what I liked most about the book. It will appeal to readers who want to reconnect with or learn more about their culture. Readers in need of an entertaining and inspirational story that flows at a leisurely pace will also find solace in this book. Practising Christians will benefit from this book as the author explores the discrepancies between scripture and some of the church's activities.
Overall, the text is well edited. I came across two repeated paragraphs, but they weren't distracting. Besides that, there's nothing I would say I disliked about the book. I will, therefore, award it a rating of 4 out of 4 stars because it deserves nothing less.
My Road Home
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