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on November 13, 2012
Bravo Broudy!
The Convert captures a crazy spiritual journey with insight for anyone questioning or sure of their convictions. While Oliver and I will, for now, see the events of Nov. 17, 2010 very differently. He captures the journey colorfully and with exceptional questioning insight. That he was able to stomach this story of revelation with barely furrowing a brow on the surface was amazing. Myself, two years ago, I would have had to walk away from a ridiculous story like this with disbelief and incredulity. Yet, Broudy stayed in the game and thoughtfully captured a human experience that had an outcome he just could not bring himself to believe in. This is partly why I hope I will always find him a friend.
He communicates the essence of so much of the atheist resistance to God and the failings of Christians to convey His Love for all, without so much hypocrisy. Frankly, I think we might be better to tell people about Satan first, then they could better understand the Christian fail. With personal insight he interprets my own experiences with such accuracy and understanding. There are a couple miscues, but generally Broudy is the faithful interpreter.
No matter your perspective there is an unbelievable journey ahead for you as you examine a life poorly chosen and inspiringly lived.
It only took a moment to find God. It took a lifetime to find that moment.
Love & Light,
Erin Mounsey
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on December 3, 2012
As an agnostic atheist, I picked up this book in an attempt to look for understanding. I don't understand religion, or belief in God, but I can see how someone raised in a religion might cling to what they were taught into adulthood. What stumps me is when an unbeliever like me makes the transition to Christianity, of all things. Knowing that not even a disbeliever is immune, I picked up this book to see what the appeal was, where belief comes from, what could possibly cause a mind to shift from rational to irrational.

Having finished it, I feel just as confused and insightless as I did before I picked it up. The writing is decent, to be sure, and the story is unique and interesting - we follow the protagonist (who I assume is the stand-in for the author) through some excruciatingly traumatic experiences, and past that, through the psyche of a severely emotionally troubled human being. I also like the fact that the author attempts, at leasts, to gear the book toward unbelievers. He is always saying "we atheists," as if he is on their side, although his generalizations about atheists grew more and more cynical and non-inclusive as the book went on.

Although the writing is eloquent in its way, what the author definitely lacks is attention to detail. He will go on for pages, describing his emotions, thoughts, experiences, and beliefs in the abstract. When it comes to events themselves, he is as vague as possible. I still don't have a definite grasp on what happened to result in his restraining orders - either of them - and even when he goes to prison, it is entirely unclear of what he was convicted. Despite the introspective nature of this book, this lack of description gives the strong impression that the author himself lacks self-knowledge - or at the very least, feels too much shame about the events to offer an honest account of them.

On top of all this, when the ending comes around, and the protagonist is (spoiler alert!) converted to Christianity, I found myself reading and re-reading the final chapter, looking for a clue, for anything remotely relatable, that could help me understand his dramatic shift in perception of the world. At this point, he lives a life similar to mine - steady job, relationship, possessing existential angst - who doesn't feel the kind of empty confusion he describes? That "Now what?" question that leaves us reaching for meaning and something substantial in a life that can only be described by its impermanency. I get that. I understand it.

To be frank, I feel a bit robbed by the ending. Part of this is because it feels like I was meant to. The author states at the beginning of the last chapter: "This is the signal that the serious bullcrap is about to commence. Our hero is about to forsake us." And it does feel like it. Up to this point I have been able to understand, at least conceptually, why the protagonist feels the emotions he does, given his experiences. But this one escapes me, not least because it is so sudden and dramatic: one moment he does not believe, and the next he does. That's all the explanation we are given. How are we meant to respond to that?

I have a suspicion that the religious readers of this book will find satisfaction at the end. That everything will click into place and they will feel like all is as it should be - through all his suffering, the protagonist finally found the Truth. They might also say, in response to my frustrations, that faith isn't something rational, that can be explained logically, but is something one can only feel. That certainly fits with the sudden unexplained conversion he experienced. And maybe that's all this book is meant to be: less of an explanation and more of a confession, and one that only fellow believers could ever hope to really grasp.

Be that as it may, I still find the book abstract to a fault and ultimately unsatisfying. I appreciate the attempt, and the writing style itself is lovely, but I don't expect most unbelievers, if they are like me, to get anything from it.
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on November 14, 2012
...and another win for Oliver Broudy. In this day and age of changing times in the journalism/publishing world, it takes serious guts to go out there on one's own and do the herculean work required for this sort of story. Broudy has delivered another punch to traditional models of publishing and we get to reap the benefits as readers. Big publishing houses, take note!
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I read a fair number of Kindle Singles, and I check every few days for new releases. I'm glad I checked this morning and saw "The Convert" listed. It was one of those "can't-put-it-down-until-I-finish-it" stories, perhaps the most intriguing Single I've read. Erin Mounsey's story of surviving and recovering from horrific burns that would have killed most people was remarkable enough, but combined with the author's intermingled thread about atheism versus belief in God made for a really unique story.

The story began with the 1999 house fire that severely burned Erin and his girlfriend Megan. With flashbacks, the author delves into their lives and how they came to the fateful point where both of their lives were changed forever by the fire. The next few years for Erin were a topsy-turvy existence, with restraining orders, drug use, a failed business, alienation from his family members, burglary arrests, and years in prison. Finally, in a most unlikely way, he has an epiphany and goes to his knees to pray to the God he has always denied the existence of.

Paralleling Erin's story are the author's thoughts on atheism. Now I should note that "The Convert" is not your typical Sunday School lesson conversion story. This is a tough, gritty narrative about a man and his remarkable odyssey from atheism to finding God. About conversion stories, the author writes: "They challenge our identity by raising the question of whether our beliefs follow or precede it." It's food for thought for anyone who has ever questioned their beliefs about God.

But don't think this is a story that only religious readers would enjoy. Until the climactic event that ended the narration, Erin Mounsey was about as unreligious as they come. The comments on atheism are from the author, and they're very literate and well thought out, but if you're not interested, then read "The Convert" for Erin Mounsey's absorbing story. On either or both levels, it's some of the finest writing I've read in a while.

Note: The author has changed the names of some characters. In the story, "Megan" was Erin's girlfriend's name. At one point, he inadvertently used her real name ("H****"). It's not a big deal, however, since Erin Mounsey's story is easy to find on the Internet, including his girlfriend's identity.
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on December 3, 2012
The thread that kept me interested in this story is the first person reflections of a genius type who became a serious burn victim and the effect it had on his thinking. None of us know the extent and the paths of suffering of people affected as this story shared. Very uniquely written although very hard to stay with. This is a story on human behavior of the tormented burn patient. They ultimately never recover. God will be the only true comfort in the end.
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on March 25, 2013
- though it fell short. I've seen believers lose their religion but never non-believers gain it - so it is a ballsy topic. To his credit, Broudy demonstrated an impressive intellect with bits of brilliance. However I had to soldier through it and the ending left me limp.
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on February 25, 2013
I find myself with a like - don't like feeling for this book. It's very interesting in that it is a true story. But there were times when the slang became a bit vulgar, something the story line did not need in order for the book to remain a "I liked it" volume.
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on November 29, 2012
I felt this book was just the author trying to show how smart he was . So much was way more over stated than it needed to be. And then after all the angst and struggle BOOM it's over . Maybe that was the point . I just felt disappointed .
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on January 24, 2013
Broudy has done a good job weaving a credible story that is seeded with complex philosophical concepts. I found it difficult to follow at times but did enjoy the read. I'll be keeping an eye out for more of his books.
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on December 18, 2013
it was brash, real, and honest. it is real life for many others out there. and at the same time it drove me to have compassion on the unbeliever. and honestly rejoiced when he became a fellow brother in the Lord.
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