To begin with, I am honored to have received a copy to preview. However, the back flap of the book promised that this was the story of a mother’s loss of Christina-Taylor Green. Since it was co-written by Jerry B. Jenkins, I thought the book would talk about the loss and the events leading up to the shooting of Gabrielle Gifford. The book even moved me to tears at some point. It began to lose me after about halfway, and then I got upset.
First of all, the book appealed to me as a Christian. I have never been a mother and can only imagine the kind of loss Roxanna Green experienced. She has my sympathy as Christina-Taylor’s shooting death shocked me as well. Green couldn’t understand how anyone, even someone insane, could shoot a little girl. Neither can I. The book details the child’s life. Christina-Taylor lived an extraordinary life, so vivacious and on fire for others and for the things that often caught her interest. I enjoyed hearing the interesting relationship between John and Roxanna Green. Many times my husband and I have wondered how a Republican and Democrat can be married and carry on dinner time conversations and still stay together. John Green traveled much and I admire Roxanna for putting family first and keeping her marriage intact. It could not have been easy.
The book in the beginning could easily interest a conservative or a liberal because it’s a memorial about a little girl. In spite of her standing politically, she won the hearts of America. I loved reading how God comforted the Green family, and how many neighbors and friends helped them to grieve. It’s always hard when someone young dies. I’ve seen it with friends. It hits people, even strangers, hard. Our own community lost a teenage girl from a brain aneurism. The grief is still evident today in the parents. Writing a book, a blog, or a journal about your grief is liberating and good therapy. This is where the problem begins.
With all due apology to the nature of the book and the still too recent events that pain the Green family, the book should have ended much sooner than it did, and instead rambled too long. I can see a lot that could still be cut from the book. Much of what she had in many of the end chapters were all ready expressed in other chapters. For instance, Chapter Fifteen is called, “Final Farewell,” and leads the reader to think it’s done. Then, you discover that there are more chapters. The entirety of Obama’s speech is printed unnecessarily inside of this book, including letters and emails from others. Even if I supported Obama, I would not want to read his whole speech. I think if she chose highlights that kept to the basis of the book, it would have been better. Then, I got mad.
Most of the last half of the book is very political. It profusely praises the Obama family and goes on and on about gun control. Sadly, the facts on gun control and the shooter were overlooked in her zeal to push her point. Some gun control was all ready in place at the time the shooter bought the gun. However, the very same people who were supposed to report the shooter didn’t and so the gun shop sold him the gun LEGALLY. Another fact, gun control only works on law abiding citizens. A criminal will not worry about the legality of getting a gun. There are states that have strict gun control and high crime. My other problem was John’s father saying this:
“Even though I’m a hunter and I love to have my guns, I don’t have a Glock with a magazine with thirty-three bullets in it. It doesn’t make sense to sell those kinds of things. I guess I never thought about it until this happened, but what reason is there to have those kind of guns other than to kill people? I just don’t understand that.” – Pg. 201.
It’s a little inconvenient to carry a hunting rifle for self-defense.
If anyone would care to investigate on how gun control doesn’t work, one would only have to look at the shooter. A background check is required in the state of Arizona to purchase a handgun. You can read more on that story here.
Technically, Jared Loughner acquired the gun legally, and yet it is said he lied on the ATF form about his drug use. See this blog post here. On any other gun-related issues, you can also go here to read real-life stories collected from newspapers all over the country of times when a gun saved a life.
As a hunter and a pro-gun advocate, I insist that law enforcement and the courts enforce the gun laws that are all ready present and stop making criminals out of law-abiding gun owners who would not think of shooting a 9-year old girl. And Gabrielle Gifford was pro-gun.
Overall, the last half of the book disappointed and angered me. I didn’t realize that Green would become so political. Granted some politics were spoken of early in the book, but they were an afterthought and relevant to the point of the story. The last half of the book became strongly political and rambled on sentiment (understandably so), but the back flap of the book never indicated that this was a political book, but a memorial with insight into Christina-Taylor’s life and the grief of a mother and father. Had it stayed to that theme and ended talking about the foundation started in Christina-Taylor’s memory, it would have been a book I would have enjoyed and recommended to others.
Out of respect to Roxanna Green who has my sympathy and compassion and to Jerry B. Jenkins, whose writing I admire and whose books have always been insightful, I can’t give this book more than three stars. Following the sandwich method as taught in Word Weavers, I hope Roxanna is not discouraged, but perhaps might consider a rewrite to keep it on target. If I had a little girl like Christina-Taylor, I, too, would have especially felt the loss of someone who brought so much light to everyone (in spite of the opposite political views) and whose very actions at such a young age is an inspiration to both liberal and conservative parties.
*Book given by publisher to review.