Never the Bride
by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge
The story is a humorous one about Jessie, a 34-year-old 11-times-over bridesmaid with an obsession to get married. She keeps journals (a closet-full) detailing her desires for marriage, engagements, and everything thereof, but has not found Mr. Right yet. Her most notable romance is a non-romance crush she has had on a lifelong friend, Blake, who of course knows not a thing of her romantic feelings for him. Amidst her romantic obsessing, God steps in, quite literally, to try to direct Jessie in His plans for her life. It becomes a big question of whether Jessie will be able to surrender her life and obsessive tendencies to God and have faith that the Ruler of the Universe knows what He is doing.
So I ordered this book with exceedingly low expectations because there was a specific ending I wanted, but I was almost positive the ending I wanted would not be the ending I got (note to self: don’t read a book if you are only willing to accept 1 particular ending).
That being said, I will start with what I liked about the book. I must say I finished the book in one sitting, which shows it was an intriguing book. Even though I wanted to hate the book, I found myself smiling in amusement at many parts. I am sure Jessie’s character was also relatable to some people (I’m not particularly obsessed with marriage except to joke with friends about going “husband shopping,” so I can’t quite relate).
I found a good many of the interactions with God to be compelling, and now have a desire to go read the Bible on the beach (the one time living in FL is actually a convenience). Call me sentimental, but the idea of a romance with God totally does it for me (romance in a strictly platonic sense, if that isn’t too paradoxical of a statement). The character growth in the story was rather well-presented, and made it more than two-dimensional. Over all, it was a well-crafted, light piece of work with some spiritual lessons that were appreciated.
Preexisting bias for a particular ending in place, I give the story 1/5 stars for spiritual satisfaction, and 4/5 for an otherwise engaging piece of work.
I have all sort of spoiler-worthy complaints about that story, but I will save those for part 2 of this review. I have 2 non-spoiler-worthy complaints instead.
The one that isn't spiritually related first (save the best for last?):
First part that really peeved me is when God (in the novel) said “Things never happen the same way twice,” which is in fact a direct quote from Prince Caspian (the movie). It certainly doesn’t come from scripture, since scripture says there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), and God is quite willing to do things the same way. So not only did she quote Prince Caspian (the movie), without referencing it, as if she is trying to pass the quote off as some original line she came up with, but she felt the need to quote Chronicles of Narnia, but didn’t even make the effort to actually quote something CS Lewis wrote, but quoted flipping HOLLYWOOD! That’s like a major biting of one’s thumb at CS Lewis there (because Shakespearian insults are so much better than modern ones). Seeing as how CS Lewis is my favorite author, I was not pleased.
This would have been a little less bothersome if a simple reference to where the quote came from had been made. A simple “‘Things never happen the same way twice,’ God said. I smiled in amusement over his stealing a quote from a movie” (the story is told in first-person narrative). Anything!
The characterization of God at parts throughout the story really bugged me. At times, He had something wise to say, and I appreciated that, or when He would point out a character flaw of Jessie that particularly hit home with me (like when she flat out told God she’d rather spend time with someone else). However, and that is a big however, I really disdained how God was characterized as making Jessie’s life confusing –this becomes apparent the further you get into the story. He would ask her to do things, and when she did them, sometimes it led to results that left Jessie in a position of having been confused. The Bible tells us God is not an author of confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33), and if a character of God is written that would lead even the most holy of Christians, let alone a Christian such as Jessie, into scenarios that lead to chaos and confusion, then that is not a true representation of who God is.
I am all for authors taking poetic license in a story, within reason, and that is why the idea of God turning corporal for a person in a story did not bother me: poetic license. I just think too much poetic license was taken at the sake of sacrificing God’s true character. Personally, I would rather a book that only sells 200 copies and stays true to Who God is than a story that sells 200 thousand copies but takes the liberty of crafting God into a character mold unfitting of Who He truly is. God is not a product to be shaped and molded into what you like simply so you can sell more books.
That being said, I’ll make a separate post detailing all the spoilers that detail what truly made me rate the book a 1/5 spiritually. As is, this is an obscenely long blog post as is.
*I acquired this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers*