Girl Meets God
by Lauren F. Winner
Genre: Spiritual Memoir
Publisher: Shaw Books
Blurb from Amazon:
The child of a Jewish father and a lapsed Southern Baptist mother, Lauren F. Winner chose to become an Orthodox Jew. But even as she was observing Sabbath rituals and studying Jewish law, Lauren was increasingly drawn to Christianity. Courageously leaving what she loved, she eventually converted. In Girl Meets God, this appealing woman takes us through a year in her Christian life as she attempts to reconcile both sides of her religious identity.
Here readers will find a new literary voice: a spiritual seeker who is both an unconventional thinker and a devoted Christian. The twists and turns of Winner’s journey make her the perfect guide to exploring true faith in today’s complicated world.
There are times when I do not know how to describe how I feel about a book. This is one of those times. This book is well-written and honest in its portrayal, but I found it lacking…something. I cannot quite put my finger on what that something is, though. From my understanding, at the time of the writing of this book, she was still young in her Christian faith, so I can understand that my feelings are attributing to that somewhat. Heck, I am still young in my faith. But, I am not a convert from another religion, so I am trying to give her a bit of grace as a write this review.
First and foremost, I am proud of Ms. Winner for being brave enough to follow her heart. She felt Jesus prompting her to follow Him and she answered that call. Being that she was an Orthodox Jew, I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been for her. However, even after finishing the book, I am still not fully understanding the reasons for her conversion. She had a dream about mermaids and Jesus. She did not feel accepted by some of her Orthodox friends, especially her boyfriend’s family (she was not a *true* Orthodox Jew as Judaism is passed through the mother and Ms. Winner’s father was the Jewish parent; however, she chose to convert to Orthodox Judaism as a teenager). But, she had others who were like family to her and accepted her as such. I just don’t think these sections were fleshed out enough. I wanted to know more of her heart and I only got more of the “I didn’t fit in” and “My boyfriend’s mom didn’t like me” responses. I don’t think she had enough distance at the time of writing this book to fully understand the decision she made and that is why some of the heart issues are not fully addressed.
As someone who is completely unfamiliar with Judaism, Ms. Winner explains in detail all of the Jewish customs, holidays and rituals. I am glad I got this e-book through my library so I could look up unfamiliar words immediately because there were a lot of them! It was almost too much for me at times. But, I was really fascinated with her explanations and narrative about her former faith.
This book is laid out according to the Christian liturgical seasons. I found this format interesting. Yes, it works, but I found some of the stories she included to be unnecessary. In the context of the whole novel, I did not understand how they fit in or why these particular stories were included. They confused me and muddied the waters.
Ms. Winner talks in detail about how she found the church she now attends, but I found that Ms. her focus on the ritualistic aspect of the faith to be a detriment to the actual prize – the personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I think she missed a golden opportunity to explore this more in depth. I wanted to know more about her relationship with Jesus and how she developed in her relationship with Him. There just wasn’t enough there for me.
Overall, this is an extremely well-written book, but I found it lacking some personal connection. I had a hard time relating to Ms. Winner. I would recommend this book with reservation.