Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
as a part of a wonderful “PhD Survival Kit
on January 14, 2015
Almost two years ago, my friend Lorna told me that I just had to read this book called Sensible Shoes. I added it to my list of books to read, but I never got around to it. So, I was pleasantly surprised when, as a part of a wonderful “PhD Survival Kit,” she gave me a copy. When I was packing to go on my retreat, I slipped the book into my bag without really thinking about it. I figured, why not? It might be a good read.
It was so good that I couldn’t set it down.
The thing about Sensible Shoes is that it’s about a group of four women who are doing a long retreat and Brown’s writing style enables the reader to go on the retreat alongside the characters. This book is more than just a good novel, it’s a spiritual renewal—and for that, I think I would give the book 5 stars. But as a novel, it is also touching and helps reveal something intimate about the reader as the characters’ souls are being laid bare.
From a literature perspective, the story is well done. The writing is superb and the way in which the author switches between the character perspectives keeps you wanting to read more and find out what happens. I’ve already written on the blog about how I related to each character, so I won’t take up space writing about that now. I will say that each character is so real, so relatable that it makes it feel like a true story. I guarantee that you have met women just like Meg, Mara, Hannah, and Charissa. Reading this novel, you might well find yourself thinking of a friend who, like Meg, needs to learn her worth. Or, you might be reminded of a former classmate who, like Charissa, makes your blood boil when she is being superficial and judgmental. Each character has different struggles, different addictions that keep them from being in perfect communion with God. The story, then, is how each overcomes those obstacles and moves forward to be in better communion with God and with each other. Since that is the story of each of our own lives and spiritual journeys, I think that makes Sensible Shoes a hopeful read.
When the story reaches the bi-monthly meetings of the retreat group that the women belong to, there is a discussion in the story of a certain type of prayer. To help the reader in their own prayer life, Brown even includes a copy of the handout that the women receive from their retreat director in the story. I even borrowed from Brown in articles for my magazine. That’s how good these handouts are. With an M.Div. from Princeton and a job as pastor at an Evangelical church in Michigan, Brown is obviously an experienced retreat director in addition to being a great author—making me even more inclined to support her book. We ministers have to support each other.
I highly recommend this great work of fiction and hope that you will take the time to read it. I guarantee it will help you in your spiritual life.