4 out of 4 stars
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Grace Revealed by Frederick J. Sievert is a collection of stories from people who experienced extreme emotional challenges and were able to find strength and resilience by God's grace. The stories range from addiction and PTSD to career and family struggles, including the loss of a loved one. The book deals with intensely emotional topics, and I found myself choking up while reading certain stories.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is an inspiring collection of stories that also offers abundant opportunities for self-reflection. As someone who is not deeply religious, I was still able to find meaning and joy in the triumphs of the individuals who were brave enough to share their stories. This book has encouraged me to reexamine my relationship with religion and believe it can do the same for others.
The book's layout was quite easy to follow, and I felt the author did an excellent job of balancing statistics and facts with personal insight. I also enjoyed how Sievert added his thoughts as a way to paraphrase at the end of each story. He flawlessly pulled out the main points of each story and summarized them in two to three paragraphs. Reading these alone would be enough to grasp the point of each story.
Sievert also closed out some chapters by providing prayer prompts. These prompts are genuine and could be used by anyone who finds themself in a similar trial. For being a template, they are profoundly moving, and I can see people using them regularly.
Truthfully I find it challenging to drum up criticism of this book. There are specific stories, like the first one in the book, that were short and vague and left me wanting more. For example, the first story states, "In my thirties, I met with a couple of counselors. I moved across the country, which helped me heal from festering memories." I was left wondering what precisely happened during that decade, which created such incredible healing. But the first story aside, the others provided more depth and detail, which read much better and left me with a deeper understanding of the plight of the storyteller.
This book can appeal to all audiences, regardless of religious connotation, and would be best-suited to read with another person or a group. The end of each story poses open-ended questions that prompt the reader to consider how they may have acted in a given situation when they faced something similar. It would be nice to share these answers with another person who has also read and understood the related stories.
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