Monday, November 11, 2013

currently reading: The Beauty of Broken

"There is no such thing as a perfect family".  

This is the premise for Elisa Morgan's new book The Beauty of Broken.  Morgan is the former CEO of MOPS International and a well-known speaker in addition to authoring several books.  In this book, Morgan shares deeply personal stories from her own life.

I was attracted to the cover of this book and the fact that Morgan, being in charge of MOPS International, was writing honestly about her life.  It's easy to assume that leaders (especially Christian leaders) have everything under control, but it is encouraging to see how they will make an impact with "messy" lives.  In the book, Morgan covers a wide range of issues she's gone through in life including marriage, adoption, teen pregnancy, homosexuality, drug addiction, infertility, alcoholism, divorce, sibling relationships and death.  

Morgan writes that Christians often make family values into a formula, acting as thought if you do A, B and C, your children will turn out to be perfect, beautiful, godly adults.  From her own life experience, Morgan shows that it's usually not that easy.  Life, and especially parenting, is messy and complicated.  

At the end of each chapter Morgan includes a "breakthrough" section.  One of these wrote about going to "Church" with her husband and son.  As you read on, you realize that she's actually talking about AA.  I loved her description of AA as Church because I got the same feeling when I visited a few AA meetings - there was something holy and sacred about people being vulnerable and holding each other up even when they know the worst about you.

As much as I wanted to like this book, I fought against it.  In a forward, Morgan writes that this is her story and asks that we "don't judge" her family members based on what she wrote.  But it's not just her story.  And sometimes even though you are involved in someone else's story, it's still not yours to tell.  I truly hope that each family member read this before it was published and signed off on the sections pertaining to them.

More than that, however, was Morgan's endless need to put a positive (read: spiritual) spin on everything.  I understand that Christians want to see God's hand in everything, but I felt she took it too far.  {SPOILER ALERT} One example is when Morgan's grandbaby is born far too early.  She writes, "Tissue-paper skin.  Sunken lungs. Delicate limbs.  There was no way he could have lived in this world.  He was not made for it.  He was made for another world."  It made me angry - it is an overly romanticized, spiritualized view of death.  The baby wasn't "made for another world"; he just wasn't made to leave his mother's womb that early.  

I have mixed feelings about this book.  It was distasteful to read Morgan "[putting] a bow on everything' (something her daughter accuses her of in the book) by trying to force there to be beauty in everything or to write a good ending to a story that perhaps hasn't resolved yet.  But it was an easy read and could be an encouragement when family struggles and parenting seem overwhelming.

**I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest opinion.


  1. interesting.. thanks for sharing. I love the book cover.

  2. Sounds like a fascinating read. I think the "putting a bow on it" mentality is an easy trap to fall into for anyone, but especially women. I blame society's tendency to tell us to be happy all the time because pain and mourning make people uncomfortable. Putting a positive spin on tragedies becomes second nature when you are conditioned from the start to trivialize your negative emotions.


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