Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grace for the Good Girl: This Girl's Review and a Giveaway

I've decided that the most difficult praise and gratitude is sometimes for that which means the most. 

Writing a review of Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life has felt a bit like writing an Oscar speech, not because I've won the award but because I have so much I want to say and my words don't seem to do this important book any justice whatsoever. 

I've started and restarted this post. I've scribbled out notes and then decided they're no good either. I've deleted and cut and pasted and just walked away from the computer altogether.  

Normally I'm not like this. When it's time to write I can usually write. But not this time. This morning I shared my writing frustration with my running partner and she said, Can't you simply write what you just told me? That speaks volumes about what this book has meant to you. 

She's right. I could simply tell you that I have no words and that you need to buy the book yesterday. End of post.

But if you're still reading, allow me to gush. 

Without even getting to the nuts and bolts of the book, I can tell you that Emily Freeman shares a life-changing message and I wish I'd read it years ago. 

I'm reading it from cover to cover for the second time and there are chapters I've now reread multiple times. The margins are chock full of notes and underlines, arrows and highlights, smiley faces and tear stains and coffee dribbles.

In telling her story, she tells mine and there's a good chance she tells yours too. She spoke into my guilt and shame by sharing her own. And when I read this excerpt about the "invisible good girl?" Well, I knew I'd found a home in these pages. 

I felt as if an invisible good girl was following me around wherever I went, showing up without permission to shame and blame and scold...She embodied the good girl version of my current life stage and shamed me accordingly: good student, good leader, good wife, and good mom. She represented the girl I wanted to be but could never live up to...I often experienced guilt but didn't know why. I felt the heavy weight of impossible expectations and had the insatiable desire to explain every mistake. My battle with shame was constant and hovering.   

And I thought I was the only one who carted invisible people around in my head. 

She talks about the masks she wore and she challenges readers to name their own. Her invitation to come out of hiding is so compelling:

Behind the mask, you are just a woman who longs to believe that Jesus makes a difference, but you have difficulty collecting the evidence of it in your own life. The true gospel really is good news. For you. Right now. 

I love so many things about this book but let me just share a couple. First of all, I love Emily's creative, witty, perfectly-said style. I have loved her since I first read her words over three years ago. 

Sometimes you find a writer who simply speaks your language, who puts your own thoughts and craziness into words in the most beautiful and just-right way. Emily is that writer for me. 

Second, this book is Biblical. Stay with me...I know I'm treading lightly when I say this but there is a lot of feel-good, Christian fluff out there. Stuff that sounds good but that is not, in fact, sound. 

This is not that book. While Emily's style is gentle and non-preachy, she is bold. She speaks the truth unapologetically. She speaks with wisdom. She digs deep into the Word and you don't walk away with warm fuzzies or the resolve to do better or with another formula tucked underneath your belt.

You walk away with Jesus.  

I realize that "good girl" may conjure up all sorts of stereotypes in your mind. Maybe you're not sure if you're actually the "good girl" she's referring to. Perhaps you have a vision of some goody-two-shoes, buttoned-up, straight-laced type and you haven't exactly been that girl. 

Truth be told, I haven't exactly been that girl either. I've had moments when my desire to have some fun or just give in outweighed my default tendency to be good. I've endured seasons in my life when doubt and unbelief gripped every part of me and I didn't care if I ever darkened the door of a church again. 

But this book is less about your track record of behavior and belief and more about the expectations that rule in your head. As one reviewer poignantly said, This book was written for every Good Girl as well as every Not Quite Good Enough Girl. 

On any given day, I am both girls. 

At 38, I'm hardly a "girl" anymore. But most days I don't feel quite like a grown-up either. Grown-up's are surely more together and responsible than I feel on most days, aren't they? Emily offers sweet assurance, speaks truth into my adolescent heart that beats anxiously inside a grown-up body.

Allow him to look beyond the girl-made hiding places you have so carefully constructed. I know it goes against all the words the world says are admirable: self-reliant, capable, strong, and resilient. But I am in desperate need of a source outside of myself all the time. And so are you.

Do you long to come out of hiding? Deep down do you hope to be found? Do you want to be able to just put it all out there--the "try-hard" or the pretend indifference or the ugly of all uglies--and know that it's okay? Do you realize that He has rescued you? Do you desperately long to know that you are safe even when life hurts and it's all falling apart?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, get thee to amazon immediately. 

The grace-filled truth of this book is what I need to cling to in the messy everyday when I'm weary from the children and the laundry and the budget and the bickering. And it's the grace-filled truth I cling to when life has completely come undone in catastrophic ways and seems entirely unfixable. This book arrived on my doorstep last spring when life was more like the latter. 

I questioned the timing of it all. I was skeptical that a book about the "try-hard life" was what I needed to be reading when I could barely get out of bed and look reality in the face. 

But this is not ultimately a book about recovering from your good-girl ways. It's a book about the Rescuer of good girls and rebellious girls and not-quite-good-enough girls and all the girls in between. 

Jesus is the truth every day of the week, every moment of the day. He's the one who lived a perfect life on our behalf because we can't do perfect. 

He's the truth that sets us free on the days when the sun is shining and things feel orderly and fine. And He's the truth that sets us free on the days when we wonder if we'll ever see the light again, when the life-altering fractures are too deep and too painful to even articulate. 

I don't know where you're living today. Maybe it's blue skies or maybe it's dark as night. But I hope that maybe something I said here has convinced you. I hope you'll buy this book. I don't get royalties or fancy swag from this review and I sincerely mean every word of what I've written.  

My prayer that accompanies these humbly typed-out lines is that Emily's message will forever change the way you see yourself and the way you see Jesus and the way you think about how Jesus sees you. 

And just like an Oscar speech, I fear that the dreaded conductor man has told me to wrap it up eighteen paragraphs ago. We've probably even gone to commercial already. 

Thank you for letting me share my love for this book with you, wordiness and all. 

You didn't think I'd wrap up this post without giving away a copy, did you? I wish I had a hundred of them to give away but y'all will have remove your good-girl gloves and duke it out over just one. 

Simply leave a comment by this Saturday at midnight {September 17th...which is technically the 18th but you know what I mean.} Tell me why you'd love to win a copy of Grace for the Good Girl or share anything else about grace or being a good girl. Whatever. I'm not picky, just bossy. 

And make sure you enable your e-mail on your profile or include it in your comment. If you win, I'll need to e-mail you and get your address.

Now get yourselves to amazon or barnes and noble or your favorite bookstore this minute and buy two: One for you and one to give to the favorite good girl in your life. 

Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman is available September, 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


  1. It's exhausting trying to be the good girl. I love Emily's blog and her book sounds wonderful!

  2. Sounds amazing, M. :) I would love to hear what she has to say... high praise from you is enough to pique my interest.

  3. I've already loved just reading about Emily's book, and I'd love to get to read it over and over as you have. Thanks for the lovely description.

  4. My poor "good girl"has probably sprinted away and been scared off, and I'm probably more in the darkness phase. Honestly, reading anything but amusing fiction kind of sounds terrible right now, but hey, who knows, if it arrives at my house one day, I might just read it:)
    I love you girl and miss you!

  5. I am definitely in the "good girl" camp - have been all my life and sometimes struggled with what to do with the imperfection. I think I need this book.


  6. Thanks Scooper-
    Don't add me to the give away...I already bought my copy per your recommendation on FB.I am praying that it will go to just the right person.
    I was hooked with the first chapter and have significant markings already in the margins. Just know it really was an answer to a prayer, One I shouted out to God with tears streaming down my face as I drove in my convertible down a corn-lined country road.

    Thanks for living a life with out a mask and allowing us to see you, your heart, through your writing.

  7. Yes! I would like to be free to be the woman God had in mind for me to be! But I have been running from Him for too long.
    I'm set to buy this one today!
    Thanks for sharing.

    hugs to you, Systa!

  8. "You walk away with Jesus." So true, Scoop. You did this Oscar-worthy book proud. Well said, friend.

  9. For one with no words, you certainly have plenty of good ones to share! Love your enthusiasm!! Everytime I read an excerpt, my tears spring up. I know I must. get. this. book. Excellent review! Blessings!!!

    tcendejas at yahoo dot com

  10. I would love love love to win this book. I want to read it no matter what, and like so many, have been eagerly awaiting doing so since I knew it was coming...

  11. Oh my sweet friend. I think I want to read this just because it has meant so much to your life. I loved our talk last night and miss you so much. I can't even go into TJ Maxx (which I did today) without finding a coffee mug to buy you each time I stroll down the kitchen aisle. Today it was one that said "I'm a great mom." I didn't get it but my heart says that to you. I love you. Oh, and I wanna win too!!! (smile)

  12. I'm too late for a giveaway but thank you for convincing me that this is a must read. I look forward to turning pages and transforming my life from the inside out. God bless you!

  13. scooper! you are lovely in every way. it was a joy to meet you yesterday. a joy.

    this book that emily has offered up is so powerful. i'm so excited to open it up every morning :).

    we're friends! i'm so glad.

  14. what a lovely review! I look forward to checking it out! and oh my, i just happened to see YOU on the nester's blog!


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