Three Days in Cowtown

Last week, I told my Ohio friends that I was going to be out of town for three days to run the Cowtown Half-Marathon. They asked, “Where’s that?”

I responded by saying that it was in Fort Worth. And they asked, “Where’s that?”

It’s in Texas. Near Dallas. Fourteenth-largest city in the United States (though I admit that I only learned this figure myself from the race packet that I picked up on Saturday). Forth Worth is not very well known to northerners because it tends to be overshadowed by its “twin brother” Dallas (ninth-largest city in the United States). But it’s a major city: bigger than San Francisco (#15), Seattle (#18), Boston (#21), or Cleveland (#52).

It also happens to be the metropolitan area where my brother, Jay, lives.

When I made plans to run the Cowtown Half-Marathon with my brother (in his first attempt at a big road race), I worried that it might feel too far, too full, in too short of a space. You can just feel the people and the money flowing through Fort Worth — like a lot of Sun Belt cities — these days. Being around a city like that can be kind of fun. But I was also concerned that it might feel too fast and full and frenzied. Fortunately, the effect of my three days in Fort Worth was almost exactly the opposite.

I got in before Saturday had barely gotten started. It was sunny and 57 degrees Fahrenheit, when our plane touched down around 9:00 AM. It was genuinely pleasant to just sit and wait for my brother outside of Baggage Claim. The sun felt so good after the winter in Ohio. And even after Jay picked me up and “the weekend got started” at his place, back in the suburb of Keller, that sense of sunshine and a serendipitous suspension of time continued to permeate the weekend.

We spent a lot of time just sitting in Jay’s back yard and talking. We ate a lot of good food. Walked his family’s dogs. Took naps. It was super low-key. Almost boring, at times. But it was really, really relaxing.

The race itself was fantastic. Seriously: one of the best-organized races I’ve ever experienced. The half-marathon course ran through residential areas, the historic stockyards, and the downtown business district. My race bib entitled me to two beers after the race and two race shirts! And best of all: I got to run along with my brother for his first half-marathon.

As great as the race was, though, the real refreshment came from the brunch immediately afterwards… the soak in the hot tub at the recreation center in Keller a little later… the massages that Jay and Brandi planned for us later that afternoon… and the Texas barbecue dinner that we had to finish the day.

I’m really glad I made space for this trip (and that Marci and the kids and the H2O Kent team and Jay and Brandi were also so accommodating). It was even more relaxing and refreshing than I had hoped it would be. I don’t know if I got any grand takeaway — other than refreshment. But that may well be takeaway enough. I appreciated the reminder to “Be still and know that I am God.” To remember, “You must not have any other god but me.” To “observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” — resting and finding renewal in the “Spring Slump” season, getting my emotional feet back under me after the rigors of Manmaker and the like.

I’m very thankful I had the means to take this trip, even if it might be hard to explain to others back in Kent. God knows what this trip has done for my soul, and that’s more than enough.

Posted in Culture, Family, Food, Health, Recreation, Running, Sports, The United States of America, Travel | Leave a comment

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

I just finished reading Heather Morris’s book, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It was recommended to me (and personally loaned to me) by my Mom. I think she knew that I’ve always appreciated the stakes of a narrative centered around war or genocide. Not because of the blood and guts, but because of the way human tragedy highlights human dignity.

The story centers around a Slovakian Jew named Lale, whose family was pressured to provide laborers for “work detail” at a German camp in 1942. This camp turned out to be Auschwitz. And Lale turned out to be at the front end of a massive migration of Jews, Gypsies, and political dissidents. They came from across the German-occupied territories of Europe. And despite the chaos and horror of this “concentration” process, the German military was remarkably meticulous and organized. Part of their system involved assigning each inmate a serial number, tattooed onto their forearm. And Lale was conscripted in his earliest days at Auschwitz to be the person who tattooed the incoming prisoners.

The position of Tätoweirer brought some unique challenges: watching the cattle cars unload right in front of him every day… working directly with sociopathic camp authorities… overcoming his personal objections to tattooing women and children. But the position also brought some unique benefits. He was given a rank above other inmates, his own room, and certain freedoms that allowed him to develop a black market in the camp in which he exchanged jewels, currency, and other valuables for sausage, chocolate, medicine, and other necessities.

In the midst of all these happenings, though, the central plot of the book centers around Lale’s relationship with a fellow prisoner, named Gita. She’s also a Slovakian Jew. Lale finds her very beautiful, even though her hair was crudely shaved off by their captors when they first meet. Honestly, I was a little disappointed in the way that Gita’s character was developed throughout the book (that is: we, the readers, were not made to love her as much as Lale was). Still, she becomes one of Lale’s primary reasons for survival. So, for all intents and purposes, The Tattoist of Auschwitz becomes a love story.

The book bears some similarities to other noted depictions of life in the Nazi concentration camps: The Diary of Anne Frank… Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding PlaceSchindler’s List… and Band of Brothers. Auschwitz is a horrific setting for a story, but it’s also compelling. I’m glad that I took the time to read this book — and that my Mom was thoughtful enough to recommend it to me — but I would personally rank some of those other concentration camp stories listed above a bit more highly.

Posted in Europe, Marriage, Recommendations, Recommended Reading | Leave a comment

The Four “I”s of Cultivating an Area for God’s Movement

How does a team start a new church from scratch? What does street-level missions look like? If we wanted to start a new H2O Church at, say, Youngstown State University (45 minutes east of Kent), where exactly would we start?

There are a variety of ways to answer these questions. But I believe that one of the most essential practices might be something I call the 4 “I”s of Cultivating an Area for God’s Movement.

The 4 “I”s can feel uncomfortable at times, kind of like a bespectacled kid on the school playground being called “Four Eyes.” But it’s the way we see. The way we find a path forward. And if we can live out these 4 “I”s with casual confidence, the whole world opens up in front of us.

I first developed a version of this framework when I was living and leading ministry initiatives in Amsterdam. A short-term missions trip to Stockholm last May reminded me of the practice. So this semester, I’ve been practicing these 4 “I”s with a student-intern from Kent blazing new trails through the Aspen Project at Youngstown State — and I’ve been freshly encouraged by the potential for missions embedded within these 4 “I”s.

Intercession

Prayer is the starting point for any work of God. It’s not just something to do until the “real work” of ministry gets started. It is ministry work. We are practicing the presence of God in a given space. We’re spiritually soaking the ground, like spring rains preparing the fields new life to sprout up. At YSU, we regularly start by walking around campus, praying out loud and under our breath. We ask for God to guide us to the people He’s prepared for the Gospel. Yesterday, we spent 45 minutes at an art gallery on campus, asking God to prepare our thoughts for how He might use us throughout the afternoon. I seriously think it may have been the most strategic ministry work we did all day.

Initiation

After we pray — and as we pray — we look for little openings to initiate with other people in our path. It could be very direct, like saying that we’re trying to start spiritual conversations with people at Youngstown State and explicitly asking if someone would be willing to share their views with us. Two weeks ago, when I was with our student-intern in Youngstown, we saw a guy who was sitting by himself at the Chick-Fil-A on campus, and we asked if we could join him for lunch. Yesterday, our most fruitful spiritual conversation started by asking a guy if he’d be willing to take a picture of us standing next to the Youngstown State University seal. These moments of initiation don’t have to be innovative. They just have to break the status quo. Whatever it takes, we just want to initiate with others in the hopes that we will find someone who’s ready to talk.

Interaction

My favorite part of the 4 “I”s is when the conversation proceeds past small talk and gets to a true place of face-to-face interaction. When we invited ourselves to that lunch at Chick-Fil-A two weeks ago, we got to know John by starting with small talk. We drilled down to deeper layers of conversation by making him feel like the most interesting person in the world. We asked him questions — and follow-up questions — about himself. And by the end of our lunch, he seemed genuinely pleased to let us pray for him. After the photo op at the YSU seal yesterday afternoon, we introduced ourselves to Dan. Then we spent almost an hour in surprisingly-meaningful interaction. We talked about his relationship, his career ambitions, his musical passions… and also the Gospel. When Initiation leads to Interaction, it seems that God can take things in almost any direction. It’s fun.

Invitation

If our Interaction goes well, we might get a chance to extend an Invitation. Maybe it’s an invitation to a follow-up conversation. Or perhaps we could bring our new friend along to an event organized by Christian friends in the area. Ideally, we would get to extend an invitation for the person to follow Jesus. But the most important thing is to keep moving things forward. Our conversation with Dan by the University seal went so well we exchanged phone numbers. So next time I’m on campus, I’ll invite him to meet up for deeper conversation. If conversation keeps flowing as well as it did yesterday, I’ll extend other invitations as well. We don’t know where God will take any given relationship, but we trust that He will guide us.

The 4 “I”s are not high-percentage ministry. It can be vulnerable and awkward. But God uses such a process again and again to sow seeds of the Gospel. Galatians 6:9 says, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Posted in Amsterdam, Amsterdam50, Church, European Missions, God, H2O Kent, Ministry, Prayer, Sweden, The Netherlands | Leave a comment

Rest and Affirmation Are Lovely Birthday Presents

I seriously cannot remember a better birthday.

Olivia Card - Front

I took the day off from work. This was partly because it was my birthday and partly because I worked too many hours last week.

I spent a significant part of the morning putting together a puzzle. While I tinkered at the puzzle, I watched some basketball games I’d previously recorded. Every now and then, a message of birthday greetings would come through by text message, WhatsApp, Facebook, or GroupMe, and I was able to pause and interact briefly with each well-wisher on an individual basis.

I met my parents in downtown Kent at lunchtime. They treated me to a lovely cavatelli dinner at Belleria. Afterwards, I browsed the used bookshop around the corner and picked up a few titles for an upcoming trip. After I got home from the bookshop, I worked on the puzzle some more. I chatted with my kids when they came home from school.

It was a lovely, lazy Wednesday at home. It felt indulgent.

The best part of the day came around five o’clock, when our family sat down at the dining room table to enjoy some pineapple upside-down cake and open a few presents. The gifts weren’t extravagant — some candy bars, some hiking pants, a special soap — but they were lovely. The thing that really made the day, though, was the letters that my children wrote for me.

They wrote much in the style of the birthday letters I’ve been writing for them each year. Cor’s was headed, “Dear Dad, To the Occasion of your 43rd Birthday.” All three of the letters from my children choked me up. Seriously. Cor shared some specific memories from the last year and said, “Even if you are older than me I have watched you grow this year and have truly enjoyed you.” Olivia reflected on some music that we’ve shared in the last year — including Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man — and she said, “Even though sometimes your life seems ordinary, you still have a daughter who loves you an extraordinary amount.” And Elliot wrote about his admiration for the way I’ve stayed relevant through the years in regards to the arts, sports, and — most importantly — character, saying, “It draws students to you for support, and it draws me to you in a similar fashion.”

These letters were thoughtful, well-written, and incredibly meaningful. I felt very loved and celebrated.

Marci and I went out for a dinner date at Giordano’s Pizza in North Canton, to cap off the day. She also spoke words of affirmation and celebration as we gazed across the table at each other. And by the end of the night, I felt refueled, refreshed, and ready to go for another year of life.

Posted in Children, Family, Introspection, Recreation, Transition | Leave a comment

Sea Salt Oolong Cheese Tea

Ha! Tea

My kids and I love Bubble Tea. Like most Westerners, we had to get used to the idea of solid components (“bubbles”) mixed in with something we’d typically classify as a liquid (tea). But we got over that years ago. There are several Bubble Tea shops in Kent, and we are now regular customers.

A month or two ago, we visited our favorite Bubble Tea shop: Ha! Tea. At that time, a sign near the counter advertised a drink called “Sea Salt Oolong Cheese Tea,” so we asked the barista if she could describe it for us. She said something to the effect of, “It’s just what it sounds like,” and she referred us back to the sign which didn’t actually provide any information. English was her second language, so we just nodded and left it at that. We ordered more familiar drinks that we knew we’d enjoy. And indeed, we enjoyed them (my favorite is “Classic Milk Tea with Boba”).

But that phrase “Sea Salt Oolong Cheese Tea” wedged itself in our brains. It’s come up in family conversation several times since that visit. It sounded pretty awful, but also intriguing. I resolved to try it the next time we visited the Bubble Tea shop — and today finally ended up presenting the opportunity for that visit.

So let me tell you what Sea Salt Oolong Cheese Tea is like.

It’s an iced beverage (like most Bubble Tea drinks). The “Oolong” part of that name refers to the sort of tea leaves used to brew the liquid, and indeed it gave the drink a distinctly Chinese flavor. Much like the hot tea that’s served in the most authentic Chinese restaurants I’ve visited. Both the “Sea Salt” and the “Cheese” in the drink’s name seem to refer to the thick foam at the top of the drink. I was asked for my preference in the solid element of the drink, so I went with boba. These are chewy tapioca balls that rest on the bottom of the cup until sucked up with the over-sized straw that’s provided with the drink.

So here’s my personal review of the Sea Salt Oolong Cheese Tea:

It’s pretty disgusting.

The “Oolong” element of the drink was OK, though I personally prefer either green tea or black tea. The “Sea Salt” element wasn’t so bad. But the “Cheese” element (which may have been tied together with the “Sea Salt”) was actually pretty cheesy. Like a stinky, blue cheese. The texture of the cheese-foam was weird (far thicker than the foam on a cappuccino or a beer). And while it was tolerable in the aggregate, it was pretty hard to swallow — both figuratively and literally — when I got to the end of the drink and the Sea Salt Cheese-foam was all that was left.

I wasn’t able to finish the drink. So while I’m glad that I gave it a try, I don’t think I’ll be ordering it again any time soon.

Posted in Children, Culture, Culture Shock, Family, Food | Leave a comment

The Inglorious (But Indispensable) Act of Running

I honestly thought about skipping my 12-mile training run this week. This would be uncharacteristic for me. But training for my upcoming half-marathon has been overshadowed by a busy weekend coordinating the H2O Network’s Manmaker Conference. A Saturday morning run was simply out of the question, with a very full day of conference coordination. But by the end of Saturday, of course, I felt emotionally and physically exhausted. I was short on sleep. I missed out on opportunities to run with other friends. I just felt uninspired.

When my eyes popped open at five o’clock on Sunday morning, however, I honestly couldn’t think of anything better to do than go for a long run. I’d been waking up like that all week, with a jumble of thoughts about Manmaker logistics, and I could just tell that my heart and mind were sufficiently stirred that there was no hope of falling back asleep. So I got up, got dressed, unloaded the dishwasher, ate some breakfast, took out the trash and recycling… and then I was ready to run.

The sun was just starting to come up in front of me, as I ran east along the Portage Trail. It was a beautiful day to be out in the woods. My pace was moderate, but my thoughts and emotions were extreme. On one stretch of road, I’d be thinking about all the things that went well with Manmaker over the weekend; on the next stretch of road, I’d start thinking about all the things that went poorly with Manmaker over the weekend. It was weird to observe how quickly I swung from the verge of tears, to the verge of laughter, to the verge of rage.

My pace gradually quickened, as I emotionally processed my inner world. By the third mile, I was running sub-8:00 min./mile pace (medium-quick for me). It didn’t feel sustainable, but I didn’t care. It felt good to run hard.

Training for a half-marathon is weird. It’s not a very glorious event, even at its pinnacle. It’s only half of a marathon. Not the whole thing. The race I’m running next weekend will be with tens of thousands of other people, many of whom have far more compelling narratives for why they’re running: to beat cancer… to remember the loss of someone special… to lose weight… to celebrate a milestone birthday… to complete a marathon in all fifty states…

I’m just running because it’s what I do. It’s an activity that suits me.

I’m pretty sure I come across as anti-social, when I run. My fluorescent-colored synthetic-fabric clothing is not beautiful. My focused face can’t be all that beautiful, either, as I’m grinding out tough miles on the roads. Motorists regularly scowl at me when I slow them down. I will occasionally receive affirmation from connections on Strava (a social media platform for runners and cyclists), but most other friends are alienated and confused about why a person would do the things I do. It’s weird. But it’s what I do. Even though I can’t explain it to others or justify the anti-social elements of my running hobby, I can see that it’s an activity that suits me.

More than being unsightly, though, training for a half-marathon is invisible. Inglorious. At the same time, it’s indispensable, if one wants to succeed on race day.

Around the five-mile mark, just as I’m turning from the Portage Trail, north towards Lake Rockwell, my watch alerts me to the fact that it’s running low on battery. It feels like a metaphor. It all feels like a metaphor: my punctilious personality, power levels, perseverance, performance… Running twelve miles to train for running 13.1 miles feels remarkably similar to running a conference, which feels remarkably similar to running a household with three adolescents, which feels remarkably similar to running “the race” of life and faith. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve got enough power to make it to the end of the course that’s been plotted out for me. But running is what I do. I just keep running.

I’ve been fighting the good fight. I haven’t finished the race. But running these twelve miles — which both my legs and my watch ultimately prove capable of completion — help me to feel physically and mentally prepared for next week’s Cowtown Half-Marathon in Texas. There are lots of ups and downs along the way, but I can handle that. It’s what I do.

Posted in Health, Introspection, Running, Transition, Weather | Leave a comment

Manmaker 2020

The H2O Network hosted its Manmaker conference in Bowling Green this weekend. We had about 350 young men, from 9 different universities, together for 24 hours. This year’s theme was learning to be A Man Like David. So we looked to 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and the Psalms for inspiration from the king known as being a man after God’s own heart.

It’s pretty amazing to hear a room full of men singing worship songs at the top of their lungs (Friday night’s worship, led by the H2O Kent band, may have been my favorite part of the weekend). But we also studied the Bible… competed against each other in a nearby sports facility… wrote our own Psalms, as a way of learning emotional expression… ate a lot of delicious food… and learned about a wide variety of topics through workshops.

I was a part of the team that helped to coordinate everything for this year. Unfortunately, that meant that I didn’t get to hang out with many students at Manmaker this weekend — although there is one photo from the weekend that features me as one of three “Eric”s from H2O Kent.

On the positive side, though, it felt like our team was able to really meaningfully serve the network at this event. It can be quite the task to pull together all of the programming for the conference itself. And to feed so many hungry young men. And to clean up after the hungry young men finish their meals. And to keep all the facility’s bathrooms clean. And to create conditions that allow for all of the conference participants to get some sleep and showers and other basic necessities of life. And to give these men a chance to meaningfully connect with God and each other.

I’m not sure we fully understood just how complicated and labor-intensive it would all be, when we volunteered to coordinate everything. But after taking on the task, we put in a lot of work ahead of time to identify everything that would need to be accomplished. We delegated tasks among all the different leaders who would be on hand. We prepared carefully. And then we all executed the plans with excellence.

I’m really proud of the way we maintained the facilities (which happened to be one of my primary responsibilities). I’d been in contact with one of the facility managers throughout the lead-up to the weekend and throughout the weekend itself, and it seemed like our event was causing some stress (perfectly understandable, considering the challenges of hosting 350 college-aged men!). As I was talking with this person on Saturday afternoon, as the event was ending, she was all smiles saying that she was going to have to call her husband and let him know that she would be home in time for dinner, after all. The other facility manager also said that they’d love to host us again, any time. We didn’t break anything. We didn’t cause any toilets to overflow or sinks to spill over. These things may be easy to take for granted, but it felt like a triumph after everything we’d heard about coordinating Manmaker from those who have done it in the past.

The only way I was able to give such care and attention to the facilities, though, was because I knew that Jason had all the registration and budgeting issues locked down as tight as possible. Daniel and Brian were all over the programming and event flow, especially for the main sessions. Nick and AJ took on the workshops for the weekend (plus several other areas of responsibility), and they exceeded all expectations for what those workshops could be. I felt incredibly proud of our team by the end of the weekend. And also ready for some rest.

Posted in Church, God, H2O Kent, Kent, Ministry, Ohio, Photography, Prayer, The Bible, Transition | Leave a comment

Center of the World

My children and I traveled to the Center of the World this afternoon.

I’m not joking. We got in our car and drove to a place in Northeast Ohio marked “Center of the World.” The name of the area hearkens back to a time when this part of the world really did feel like something special. The Gilded Age of America. So many of the Political Powerhouses and great Titans of Industry hailed from places like Youngstown, Cleveland, Canton, and Akron. They believed they were unstoppable, indefatigable, industrious enough to propel Northeast Ohio (and, by extension, the United States of America) to the top of the world. Center of the World. And that’s nearly what happened… for a time.

Today, the Center of the World area is run down. Motels and ice cream shops are boarded up and abandoned. A pawn shop and a Dollar General remain. The flags on top of the city signs are tattered and torn.

There’s an old-fashioned diner called the Short Stop on the east end of town. Orange vinyl benches and bar stools crowd around Formica tables and counters. Coffee mugs the color of burnt umber pair beautifully with a matching stripe around the edge of the paper place-mats. The walls are decked with American bunting and televisions playing Fox News.

The Short Stop menu features a broad range of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. I’m especially intrigued by the “Center of the World Dog,” which is described as a foot-long hot dog, wrapped in cheese, wrapped in bacon, battered, and deep-fried. Unfortunately, I only came with the stomach for a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. So when our waitress comes by, I ask her for a recommendation. She suggests the peanut butter pie, so I order the peanut butter pie. Elliot orders a breakfast plate. Olivia orders a grilled cheese sandwich. And Cor orders a cheeseburger.

Our food is good. And cheap. A quintessential American diner experience.

After finishing our food at the Short Stop, we drive another twenty minutes to Niles, Ohio, to visit the Birthplace of President William McKinley. He was in power during the Gilded Age, and his Memorial shows it. Massive marble columns surround a large statue of McKinley. Behind the columns, under a marble awning, a host of faces gaze out towards McKinley. These large, beautifully-rendered bronze busts feature men with large sideburns and mustaches. Theodore Roosevelt… William Howard Taft… Andrew Carnegie… Henry Clay Frick… Warren Harding… We later discover the unifying characteristic of the figures represented in this pantheon of power: Money. They were the ones who donated to the construction of the grand memorial.

It’s another reminder of the considerable Power and Money flowing through Northeast Ohio back in the late-1800s and early-1900s. When Ohio felt like the Center of the World. But it wasn’t long after we pulled out of the parking lot at the McKinley Monument before we started seeing blight again. Vacant industrial parks and darkened factories crowded the road. A garish casino tries to project an image of glamour and prosperity to its dilapidated, concrete neighbors. Within a minute of getting on the Interstate highway back towards Kent, all signs of civilization are gone. A seemingly-endless forest spreads out before us, bare branches reaching to the gray sky.

I smile when we pass the area where I know that Center of the World sits, just to the north, off to our right. Some might say that Center of the World, Ohio is sad. But I think it’s actually beautiful in its own way. It provides a true picture of another “America” that’s often obscured. Our idealism has been rusted over and boarded up. But we still have a pulse. We still appreciate a good cup of coffee and slice of pie with friends and / or family. We still have hope for our children to find a way that’s neither destitution nor opulence. That’s way that’s Centered.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day in the CVNP

Crooked Tree at CVNP

I love my Friday mornings in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Even (or perhaps especially) in the dead of winter.

Blue Skies in the CVNP

Friday mornings are my time “walking with God” through the woods. It brings me joy and peace, no matter what the circumstances might be. When the sun is shining through the trees, though, it’s extra powerful.

Valentine’s in the CVNP

On this morning’s Valentine’s Day hike, I spotted a special sign of God’s love on one of the trees. Even though temperatures were in the teens, it was a beautiful day in the park.

Posted in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, God, Introspection, Ohio, Prayer, Weather | Leave a comment

The Mothers

I just finished reading Brit Bennett’s book, The Mothers. It was recommended to me by my friend Cait: one of her favorite books of 2019. Cait is astonishingly widely-read (she probably goes through a few books every week). So, I figured I should take her recommendation seriously. I was also curious to give Brit Bennett’s writing a try.

The story centers around three young adults from southern California. All three of these characters are observed from afar by a group of old church ladies, or “Mothers,” from an African-American congregation called the Upper Room. And all three of the main characters have significant problems with their own (biological) mothers which drive the plot. Nadia’s mother committed suicide when she was in her teens. Aubrey’s mother married an abusive man who caused Aubrey to run away when she was in her teens. And Luke’s mother is the “first lady,” or wife of the pastor, at the Upper Room — and she has strong opinions about the women with whom her son consorts. Nadia and Aubrey, of course, are those women.

I really appreciated the character development in this book. Nadia and Aubrey are particularly well-rendered. Their relationship is complicated and fascinating. The book also paints a nuanced portrait of complicated topics like suicide, abuse, abortion, and infidelity. I felt like I learned a lot; I gained a lot of perspective from reading this book, even as a work of fiction.

The Mothers will probably not end up being my favorite book of 2020. The male characters were shallow. The story got slow at times. I was dissatisfied with the way things ended. Still, I’m glad I read the book.

Posted in Family, Introspection, Recommendations, Recommended Reading | Leave a comment