Review: Scary Close by Don Miller

I’ve been remiss in posting reviews. Here is one originally published in the March 2015 Woman Alive book club.

078521318XReading the latest offering from a familiar writer can feel a bit like catching up with an old friend. In the Woman Alive book club in late 2006 we discussed Blue Like Jazz (review posted here), Don Miller’s breakout hit that was turned into a movie. In Scary Close Don continues to share his emotions and thoughts openly, as if inviting the reader over to dinner and a long chat.

He recounts his move to marriage, a long journey as he used to be a serial dater; one who would obsess over winning a girlfriend and then, once he caught her, he’d lose interest, break her heart, and move on to the next. He’s been open about his “father wounds,” stemming from his dad leaving his family when Don was a young boy; surely some of this fear of commitment had roots in those early traumas.

Scary Close shows flashes of insight and brilliance; I love his strong images, such as how he describes his new-girlfriend-later-wife, “She’d no sooner end a relationship than she’d cut down an old-growth tree. In the heat of that argument I realized I was only a sapling in the forest of this woman’s life… If I was going to win her heart, I’d have to plant myself in the forest and slowly grow the rings that earn loyalty…” (pp. 4-5).

But I tried to ascertain what unsettled me, and after a while I realized that it feels as if Don’s Christian faith has been shoved to a corner. He speaks of working through deep issues such as identity, the need to perform and impress, trust and intimacy, by looking to psychology for the answers. Now I’m not wanting to discredit psychology; of course the Lord works through the social sciences to aid and bring healing. But it feels like these manmade systems have taken precedence in shaping who he is. Even Don saying that he’s not been to church in five years made me take pause; has his journey of questioning moved him away from the God of answers, the God who wants his all?

Of course we as readers aren’t really invited to dinner with a writer; we don’t know what’s going on in their heart and mind, so my conjectures are just that – unproven propositions. I’d be happy to be wrong.

Read it for the evocative language and probing questions about intimacy and relationships, but read it asking for what’s not said as much as what is.

Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy by Don Miller (Thomas Nelson, ISBN 978-0785213185)


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