Book Review: Helen Sloane’s Diary by Jeff Lucas

5072183One of the quotes on the back of the book says ‘Lucas has … written of the moving, insightful, often painful but frequently hilarious spiritual journey of … Helen’. I agree that it was ‘moving’ as I had tears in my eyes at the end, and it was definitely ‘insightful’ because it raised and tackled a lot of questions that a lot of Christians are wrestling with these days, but I found that aspect of the book a bit heavy-handed. It was a bit obvious that the author was used to straight-talking his message rather than using story to tell it. At times, Helen sounded a bit too much like a Christian speaker/writer. In places she came across as a bit of a ventriloquist’s dummy. There were some comical moments, but I’ve been raised on a diet of Adrian Plass which is laugh-out-loud funny, and this book just wasn’t in the same league. I think Lucas did a great job with Helen’s ‘personal tragedy’ though. Her reactions rang true and seemed very honest, and I was glad that Helen’s dream of ending up married by the end of the year didn’t come true. It made her journey more than a Christian-twenty-something’s quest to not be single. It was about the importance of community and friendship and forgiveness and grace. However, I did find some of the secondary characters a bit caricaturistic which diluted the power of this story, and I was frustrated by the fact that major things in Helen’s life like her job and setting up a youth club didn’t play a bigger part in her journey. I’d have liked to see some of the friction she must have experienced in these roles rubbing off some of her rough edges. The ending was just right though … Open-ended, as if her journey is only just beginning.

I gave this book only two stars because it was just okay. Adrian Plass and the BBC series Rev have done it better. And if you’re looking for a book that truly ‘stuns one with God’s generous grace’ while tackling the questions that this book attempts to deal with then try ‘Evolving in Monkey Town: how a girl who knew all the answers learned to ask the questions’ by Rachel Held Evens. A beautifully honest memoir.

2/5 – It was ok.