Philanthropic Ways Book Review
I was given a free copy of this book by the author, Eugenie Laverne Mitchell, in exchange for an honest review.
3 out of 5 chickadees singing. Philanthropic Ways is about three girls who formed a singing group at their church, but then parted ways as teenagers. Each girl took a completely different path. We first meet Avarel, who has become a singing superstar, but has had to compromise many of her morals and values along the way. She has been married multiple times and barely has a relationship with her young son. We then see where Carly is. Carly keeps getting back with her loser boyfriend, who leaves her pregnant nearly every time and then takes off. She has six children when we are done with her story, but no husband. She, too, has fallen away from God. Lastly, we meet Amelia, who has remained in church and continues to sing for God’s glory. God has given her a revelation of her future spouse that she is clinging to, despite attention from other suitors. The girls’ paths meet for a short time, as Amelia encourages her friends to come back to church, and we see where each one ends up at the end of the book.
First of all, this is a different sect of Christianity than I’m familiar with, so that was interesting. The church the girls grew up in, Born Again Church, is very charismatic. They strongly believe in divine revelations from God and the gift of prophecy. I’m not used to that being a heavy focus in church, so I had mixed feelings about the characters having revelations and prophetic dreams so often. I could see the temptation an author might have to use these prophecies as a plot device, but I didn’t feel that they were relied upon too heavily. Also, the courtship process was super different. Men would go to the Bishop asking for a girl’s hand in marriage, she would tell the Bishop her response, and the Bishop would pass it along. Sometimes these were men Amelia had barely spoken with, who were seeking to marry her! It was interesting to read about this branch of Christianity, as it isn’t something I’m familiar with at my church.
I found the girls’ stories realistic, except maybe Amelia’s because of the divine revelations that I have never experienced. However, Carly and Avarel led challenging lives and saw the rough parts of life. It was a good story of redemption in that God kept trying to draw the two wayward daughters back to Him. He never gives up on His children. The ending was also realistic, although I don’t want to give anything away. The three characters were interesting and likeable, although Amelia drove me a little crazy with her refusal to trust in a certain character. I was glad when she realized her mistake and what a fool she had been.
The book format/writing style could use some improvement. In the beginning, it was as if the characters were talking to a person (phrases like, “So you want to know what I’ve been doing since I left God’s Little Angels?”). However, later, it was a normal narrative in which the readers were not involved at all. Nothing about the book really “sucked me in,” like some books do, hence the 3 out of 5 chickadees singing. I do believe this author has potential and will only keep improving.