I’m going to admit to a fault of mine here. The second the word “God” comes up in a book and it is not meant in irony or fiction, I get immediately turned off to whatever I’m reading. I’m a bit bitter about religion. It bothers me and I feel like there’s an incredible level of stupid that comes with believing in a higher power. Now, don’t get me wrong–I grew up in a Christian household, I respect a person’s need to believe in something bigger than them so they can make peace with the horrible things that go on in this world and whatever afterlife brings. That, however, does not change my mind about religion nor does it detract from how idiotic I believe it is.
Now, this is on me. I fully recognize this as a brick wall fault of my own. And while I was genuinely excited to read this book as it certainly shouts that it’s sending powerful messages to young women from the title alone, the second I read the word God I had to put the book down because it genuinely distressed me that a book which is meant to empower and help young women has, on the first page, started what I consider a disturbing attempt at influence. “Your soul is also what connects you to God.” I cringe.
If it weren’t for the fact that I was provided this book as an ARC and I prefer to give complete and informed reviews, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to finish it.
And the problem with that is this book genuinely has good intentions, a good message for young women everywhere. But every inclusion of God and “God’s gifts” and being “God’s creation” was exclusionary. Instead of writing a book that could genuinely provide an important and wonderful message to young girl’s everywhere, the author chooses to isolate every single young woman who does not believe in God. Is it really too much to ask that we leave God out of it?
And then, not only does the author give us far too much God in her book, but she even shames people for not “talking to God” in the morning and checking Instagram instead. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What a young girl feels good about doing with her free time in the morning is not something that is up for others to judge. In fact, that sort of very judgmental thinking is part of the reason young women–and really, everyone alive today–face so many struggles with appreciating themselves.
Additionally, I absolutely cannot and will not look at the idea of “pleasing God” as someone’s goal ever being something anyone should do. This bit of advice honestly made me nauseous and in my opinion, is just about one of the worst things anyone could ever tell an impressionable mind.
As for the writing, it’s alright. One of my first thoughts as I read this book was holy exclamation points; she uses an awful lot of them. She asks a lot of questions of the reader and then goes on to make assumptions that may or may not be true. She also assumes that making these changes to improve one’s self-concept will be easy, which I struggled with. Getting out of negative thinking is a process, a hard one. And it takes years. Being peppy and sunshiney doesn’t always solve a person’s issues. And sometimes it just irritates them.
It was a good idea, a good attempt even–but it falls under the problematic category of self-esteem building which has been scientifically proven to be problematic. The author of this is, unfortunately, rather uneducated on the subject she’s writing about, pulling solely from her own experiences which is not enough when it comes to something like this. Ultimately what self-esteem-building does to people is influence their narcissistic side. It doesn’t always, of course, but often times it doesn’t actually improve things for a person. I particularly found it problematic when she suggested one replace the label of dumb with intelligent.
Labels as a whole are disastrous and in my childhood, I often fell prey to this idea of being intelligent so that when I failed at something it was the most disastrous moment of my entire life. I spiraled into a deep depression in my Junior year of High School and never fully recovered from it. Currently, I study Psychology and in my studies, I’ve learned quite a lot about self-esteem building and labels. What one comes to realize after extensive experience in this particular subject is that changing the label that we call ourselves doesn’t give us the ability to improve our lives. What we need for that is praise to one’s effort, not simply putting the expectation of success all the time on their shoulders just by using a positive label.
“Once you’ve attached a negative label to yourself, it’s pretty hard to shake off.” I’m going to agree with the author here; this is true. But what she fails to realize is that once a person attaches any label to themselves it’s hard to shake off. And while considering yourself intelligent can seem like a positive label, what she fails to realize is that when, inevitably, a person is human and does something that they or others or both may consider unintelligent it creates an existential crisis for that person. It can make them question who they are and cause quite a bit of damage.
Overall, I just couldn’t get on board with this book. I believe it had good intentions, but it was chock-full of problematic ideas and somewhat ridiculous comparisons that really added nothing to the message it was trying to send. I give the author credit for trying and the good she wanted to do with this book…but I would not recommend it for anyone to read.