Book Review: Astonished


“I do not tell Will and Jacki that to me God and Mary are the same spirit force energy with different names; Mary was the mother of Christ, but since her death she’s become a mystical mother of us all, a feminine manifestation, and in my opinion the feminine side, of a God who is sexless.” Pg. 35

Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace and Solace by Beverly Donofrio reminds me of the movie previews from “Eat, Pray, Love.” Instead of leaving to find herself, the author searches for an escape from a horrific rape by traveling from monastery to monastery.

Astonished is a great book for the left-leaning,New-Age-believing liberal, but for the Christian it is against everything we believe. The writing is poetic and flamboyant. When describing how men treated her in Brooklyn in the beginning of the book, the unnecessary crudity was too much information. It’s only a difficult read because our worldviews are so radically different, even when at the end she says she believes in Jesus and yet her belief is mashed with other beliefs contrary to the Bible talking about mystics who see flying saucers to a shaman who cleanses her room after the rape or, like the quote above, talking in the present that God is Mary or God is a she or a he/she.

The book describes her journey as doing what feels good, and yet alienates any conservative readers on page 187 by saying, “…hearing on the radio in my hermitage the raw hate at Tea Party gatherings.” Having been to a Tea Party gathering, that is not true. On page 57, Astonished puts down conservatives, especially those for the death penalty who are pro-life. The unborn baby didn’t murder someone. When she calls the baby a fetus, it tells me she is pro-choice.

Astonished, at timesdoesn’t properly quote scripture. On page 53, she quotes a verse from Psalm 16, but doesn’t say what verse or what translation. Her usage of scripture concerns me. Is she wrapping scripture around her life or her life around scripture?

I thought, by the end of the book, Astonished would find the author turning to Jesus, not to a Jesus of her own making. Feminism definitely influences her view of the Bible and God.  Her story is a sad one, but I thought her views were too radical and I struggled with how to rate this. It’s not written under the Christian genre, but writes for a left-leaning and more radical audience. I can see the Oprah crowd oohing and ahhing over these pages. Because the audience is more radical, I gave it three stars. A Christian won’t like it. It will insult a conservative or a moderate liberal. Astonished will offend a pro-lifer (which spans both Republican and Democrat). If she wrote fiction, I’d probably read her books, but not her nonfiction.

*Book given by publisher to review.