609 of 718 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (Paperback)
This book has been going around book clubs and blog circles for a while now with nearly unanimous positive reviews, yet I was very disappointed by what I found when I picked it up myself.
Mrs. Hatmaker and her friends are clearly passionate, well-intentioned people. Their church focuses on helping the homeless and disenfranchised, many of them are adopting African orphans, and her intentions in the starting this experiment were good.
But honestly I came away from the book mystified, disappointed and having failed to connect. Most of the drama that drove the book was the sole by-product of the author's refusal to plan anything (ever) and compulsive spending habits. She's sadly blasé about the simple things she doesn't know and doesn't consider important to learn (case in point, whether watermelons grow on bushes, vines or stems). It's also hard to be empathetic when so much of what she does either contradicts previous chapters or makes you question other content (if they were so desperately poor early in their marriage, why does she have so few skills in area like reducing waste, careful shopping, and basic mending of clothing in house?). It somewhat strained believability that someone who writes and researches for a living and lives in a notoriously "earthy crunchy" city was only just learning about (and terribly shocked by) the mess of industrialized food, incessant media onslaught, and the perils of vast over-consumption.
Perhaps most frustrating was the reality that she didn't actually learn any new skills or make permanent lifestyle changes. She fasted from things for a set period of time, setting arbitrary rules that fit nicely with the theme of "7" but weren't necessarily related to best practices, long-term growth or sometimes even basic logic. She flexed the rules to best suit her situation, and when the book was written went back to how things were with a slightly fresher perspective and a bonus perk here or there (cleaner house, a garden completely maintained by someone else, a few pounds lost).
If this book prompts you to make changes in your own life or become more aware of your own bad habits, then more power to you. If you're looking to really dig deep and make powerful changes in your life, I recommend looking elsewhere.
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Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 30, 2012 10:05:31 PM PDT
Posted on Sep 10, 2012 10:06:07 PM PDT
Debi S. says:
Thanks for your review. I'm experiencing the same feelings as you stated here. It seems like a very gimmicky book to me. At least she probably made enough money to replace the stuff she gave away.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2012 6:17:52 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 11, 2012 6:19:18 AM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2012 6:22:04 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Nov 21, 2012 9:13:55 PM PST]
Posted on Oct 15, 2012 3:42:47 PM PDT
Donnave O. Abt says:
As a young married, although we had only a little money, I was not the best mender of clothing nor was I interested in growing my own food or learning how it was grown. That does not mean that I nor the author is any less concerned about the excess of our lives in America. Clearly, she was trying to LEARN what worked for her and her family. If she tried things serially, but, only made a few changes in her life, she still made positive changes. Not everyone is meant to be an earth mother: Seeing babysteps are possible is encouraging.
Posted on Nov 25, 2012 10:45:24 PM PST
Barbara Smith says:
Hatmaker is honest and sincere, but also hilarious. The author is doing an admittedly short term and inexact experiment with consuming less in order to make more room for God. I enjoyed her humility and sense of humor throughout. I laughed out loud so many times while reading this even though the subject of American greed, waste, and consumer mentality is quite depressing. You need to have a sense of humor in order to enjoy this book.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2013 6:19:50 PM PST
Kathleen Lashier says:
I agree - I rarely laugh out loud at books but this is hilarious and I am laughing a LOT. It WILL cause me to see things differently, and perhaps even change some habits -- for the better !
Posted on Jan 29, 2013 9:31:49 AM PST
I felt that by admitting her weaknesses in a funny way, she came across as non-judgemental, which makes the book much more palatable to so many people. And the fact that she is eating normal foods again, and doing some of the same things again, does not discredit all that she learned in my opinion. I don't think she's trying to make the point that enjoying yummy food and driving two cars, etc is evil and we as Americans should all stop doing that. But instead, we should appreciate all that we have, think about the things we do, really examine, pray about the excesses in our lives and make some changes. This book has helped me in that way. One line from the book still resonates with me: we are the richest people in the world praying to get richer. Ouch! I will remember that line forever and because of that have stopped thinking I need more things, my husband and I have reigned in our budget and now give more money to charities and people in need. Maybe some people don't need to hear what she has to say because they're already there...and I get the points that this reviewer has made, but I still think that this is a beneficial book for many people.
Posted on Apr 10, 2013 10:17:55 AM PDT
I think it's important to understand that Jen Hatmaker is talking about a fast. She fasts from things for a month at a time and in their lack she focuses more on God. She actually talks about that- how fasting from most foods brought her attention to God whenever she missed them. This isn't a book about learning new skills, it's a book about turning to God and being a more truthful follower of Christ.
I love that she is honest about the things she doesn't know, and I love that she admits to bending the rules- I think that the focus needs to be on relationship, not rules. She always points out how she has bent the rules and what she thought about it. I love that she didn't just cover it up.
The book's strongest point is that it was written by a real person in a real world situation, with all of her faults and flaws out there for everyone to see.
As to your disappointment that this fast didn't lead to any permanent lifestyle changes, you're talking about a person who left a prosperous position at a megachurch to start a church founded on service to Christ and others. That's a big change.
Posted on Jul 9, 2013 10:43:42 AM PDT
Joni L. Tyner says:
I'm almost done reading this book and I don't know how someone could say that she didn't learn anything or change her lifestyle. As another posted, it was a FAST, and at the end of the fast, some things go back to normal, others might look differently. I've been attempting to fast as the participate Bible study guide suggests, (1 week fasts) and it is HARD!!!! This study has un-done me in the best way. I was certainly a Bible-believing Christian and doing lots of good things, but I too was guilty of many excesses in my life. I'm re-evaluating things. Somethings are going to look different, like my closet. Others, my food habits, won't change that much, (partially because I already ate pretty healthy). I think the point is to become more aware of life outside our Christian bubble. To see those less fortunate and do something--that something looks different to each of us, some might be able to serve at a homeless shelter, others might just give a bit here and there. We are attempting to work towards improving, we will never arrive at 100% because we aren't perfect. She completely admitted she wasn't perfect, and i found that authentic and inspiring.