Saturday, May 11

Altared: The True Story of a She, a He, and How They Both Got Too Worked Up About We by Claire and Eli

Ring by spring. That seemed to be the motto of the Christian University I attended, and I saw this played out more than once. And it wasn’t just that college. It seems that many churches, regardless of the denomination, strongly push marriage, even to those who are not in a romantic relationship. While the churches encouragement toward marriage can be good, it also has the ability to be too forceful and Christians may feel pressured to marry earlier than they otherwise might.

This idea is deconstructed in Altared by Eli and Claire (both pseudonyms). They are not saying that marriage is bad, however they believe an unnecessary amount of focus in put on marriage by the church. While marriage is good and is biblical, churches sometimes make it feel like a commandment. Instead of encouraging singles to practice discipleship and serving, the stereotypical ‘singles’ class feels like dating prep class. Eli and Claire use the story of their relationship to illustrate how this over emphasis on marriage hurt their relationship. They also take time to look at what they find the Bible says about marriage, as well as looking at other Christian writers say about marriage. All in all it reads as part story and part devotional/bible study.

In the preface, Eli urges readers to read the whole book, not just the story bits. Unfortunately, the story bits were the more interesting part of the book, and even then they sometimes went on longer than seemed necessary. Eli and Claire take turns writing. The image at the beginning of each section lets you know who is writing. During the story sections, it remains clear who is speaking, but during the analytical bits, it didn’t seem quite as important and I often forgot who it was, though this did not affect the content. The story of Eli and Claire started and ending very interestingly. They met despite living quite a distance apart, but it was truly enjoyable to read about how they met and began their relationship. The middle part of the story didn’t flow quite as well and didn’t always seem as necessary to the story. The ending then picked up again, as developments that I didn’t see coming occurred. At times I felt like I was reading a piece of fiction, which I do not mean negatively.

The analytical parts, however, often felt disconnected. They only occasionally fit in with the narrative story. Additionally, a lot of time was spent quoting the writing of other authors. While I enjoy seeing writer’s interact with the text of others I didn’t feel that Eli and Claire added a whole lot to the conversation, rather they seemed to use the quotes to supplement their own thoughts. In moderation this is fine, but I felt that it was over used.

Though the narrative in the book had several enjoyable turns, I wouldn’t recommend only for that. The parts in between just don’t measure up. However, if you are looking for a book that take a different view of marriage, while still being from a Christian perspective, there could be some interesting points in here. Unfortunately, I haven’t read much on the topic to know better books to recommend.

2/5 stars

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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