Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Book Review: Graced and Gifted

Sometime last Fall, (yes, last Fall) I received my copy of Kimberly Hahn's new book, Graced and Gifted to review for The Catholic Company. And it sat on my shelf for a while. Some of you might remember it was rather busy around here at that time. I peeked inside once or twice, but was not drawn into the book as I originally thought might happen.

At some point I took the book of the shelf and moved it to a more approachable side table certain that simply seeing the book would make me inclined to read it. Unfortunately, its new location did little more than give me a new spot to rest my nightly cup of tea.

In December, when Baby Girl headed to the hospital, it seemed the perfect time to finally read.that.book! Once the nurses were done poking and prodding at her, I would slip out the book and get to it. Sadly, as soon as Baby Girl was resting comfortably, I would arrange myself on the sofa/bed in her room and cuddle up with my crisp, white hospital sheet to read. And promptly fall asleep. I did manage to read a few pages while I was there, but all in all, the book was not what I had expected.

I should start by saying I love Kimberly Hahn. I have her CD series A Mother's Rule of Life in the Domestic Church and the book Life-Giving Love both of which I couldn't put down.

Then, this February, Kimberly and her husband Scott came to speak at our parish. I wasn't planning to go due to a scheduling conflict, but decided it might be the shot in the arm I needed to get motivated to read this book.

Their talk--especially hers--was wonderful. (Scott Hahn was wonderful, too. I just forgot to finish my doctorate in Theology before attending.) But she was as gracious and spirit-filled and wise as I remembered from her earlier works. The stage was set to finally begin the book! So, for Lent, I promised myself to work through the book little by little until it was finished.

A few chapters in, however, my motivation started to lose steam. The book was more Scott Hahn and less Kimberly Hahn in many places, becoming less a cozy, women's bible study book and more a theology student's text book in parts. Not what I expected, or desired from one of her books.

This is not to say that the book isn't full of wonderful biblical wisdom for women.

It is.

But the style is not what I was expecting. I don't think I would select it for use as a bible study either, as it is quite lengthy. Although, there are wonderful lists of chapter discussion questions (more than you could ever topple in one bible study meeting) in the Appendix.

Most disappointing to me was the lack of "Kimberly-ness" in the book. At times, her vibrant personality shined through, but at other times the book seemed flat. Perhaps it is just that I like listening to Kimberley Hahn more than I like reading her? That being said, there is a Graced and Gifted Book and DVD series also offered by The Catholic Company which promises, "Kimberly Hahn's lively presentation of the Graced and Gifted material to a seminar audience." which is where, in my humble opinion, she does her best and most passionate work.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Graced and Gifted-Biblical Wisdom for the Homemaker's Heart.


Stina said...

Thank you for sharing this. I, too, was interested in this book after hearing her speak, but haven't yet bought the book. Now I will be better prepared if I ever do get around to buying it!

Sarah (JOT) said...

I heard her talk on the first book in this series . . . excellent. I had read the book beforehand, excellent . . . the talk was identical to the book. Almost ver batim. So, when I heard another book (this one) was due out, I skipped it. You could likely read the book OR listen/watch the cd's dvd's. Whichever suits your style. The Hahn's are well-suited to those who need to understand the Bible and all that, but some of the books become redundant. I have found that taking a break from the Hahn's is a good thing. Read a Saint (Avila, Cross, Bonaventure etc.). Your review was excellent. If you haven't ever read Scott's Promises of a Father, that I would recommend. But, read it after several other books . . .

laura miller said...

I might tackle this one. I joined a Bible study for Mothers with Young Children at my parish and we are starting with the Hahn's "Chosen and Cherished" which I like because of its straightforwardness. I contemplated joining the Book Group already in progress which is on Chapter 8 of Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth. I was scared away from that because of the level it was written at (it read to me like a doctoral dissertation). This might be a good in-between book. Thank you for the review. Have a blessed day!
Laura Miller