Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Death Wish by Gwee Li Sui

I got to know about Gwee Li Sui through his funny poems, such as The Other Merlion and Friends and the more recent Haikuku. But Death Wish is a whole different ballgame, in a league of its own.

At the book launch last week, Gwee revealed that this book has been 20 years in the making and the genesis of it was at the start of his academic career, when he realised his voice was fracturing. The first section, titled The Professor, gives us an insight into how he realised academia was not what it was made out to be. It feels not so much angst-filled, as someone frustrated with the state of how things are, yet powerless to enact change. The following is a glimpse of the fascinating first section:

The second section, The Lovers, was a result of seeing couples who were at one time in love, getting divorced. It is a tough situation to be friends with both parties yet unable to see them together as an item like they once were. Gwee told us at the book launch that the section, like the rest of the book, is simultaneously about him, and yet not about him. Although he draws on the lives of his friends, he also dug deep into himself and the relationship he'd once experienced and poured it onto the pages. To quote Alex Vause from Orange is the New Black, "Love is Pain" basically summarises this section.

Next comes The Philosopher, which is one of my favourite sections because I had to read, and then reread the poems to try to discern the meaning behind them. My favourite was "What I mean when I say 'I'":

I think this section really lives up to its name as it made me slow down and contemplate not only the poems themselves but beyond them.

Then came fourth section, The Solider. The inspiration for it was the period after September 11, 2001, with the opening poem bringing the said incident into raw focus. Gwee mentioned that it was strange that the people in Singapore seemed to be unaffected by the war on terrorism and that was brought to bear in the poem, "Dream Sequence" which can also describe the nonchalance of Singaporeans even today.

The Preacher is the next section that follows which dealt with how the Singaporean landscape of the Christian faith that he holds dear to had changed dramatically after a few years abroad. Rich Jesus and Meeting God are two pieces that really impacted me and is an interesting intersection between faith and poetry (having only read stuff from John Donne and Anne Lee Tsu Pheng from this genre before).

Finally, the book ends with The Golden Child, which was the most interesting to me as it was more transparent, with poems about the AWARE Saga in 2009 and the NLB Saga in 2014. For Singaporeans, those were significant events and I really liked those two pieces.

All in all, I'd say this is a rather good book of poetry which requires a little bit of effort to unpack. I hope this review will aid you in the reading of the book, having given the reader some context into how the book came to be.

If I had but one criticism, it would (once again), be the rather "creepy cover" featured (as commented by most of my friends). I did ask the author about it who said that it highlighted the psychological aspect of the book and the publisher also remarked that he found it a very arresting image. I'd have preferred something less disturbing. But to each his own. And this is another excellent lesson on how we should not judge a book by its cover.

Well, if you're interested, you can get your copy from Kinokuniya or Popular Bookstore today.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

With a beautiful cover encasing an equally beautiful story, Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan is a stellar read.

I thought I would take a long time to read it but finished it within a day because the story just drew me in. It's an interesting book, and I because I love all things Japanese, having it set in some small town with Japanese characters drew me in.

The novel centers around Ren Ishida, a young man whose sister died in mysterious circumstances. He travels to the small town she lived in to tie up some loose ends. He then ends up taking the job his sister worked at (in a cram school) and tries to trace the paths she'd taken, in an effort to uncover the mystery surrounding her death.

There is a bit of magical realism hidden in the dreams Ren has, which helped move the story along a little. I'd have preferred to have it blended in real life, but each author has their own style so I won't complain too much.

I thought the writing was just a tiny bit uneven at the beginning but sorted itself out after a while.
If you like a good read, here's the book to get!

Disclaimer: I received an Advance Uncopyedited Edition from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rachel’s Now Reading is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Dream Storeys by Clara Chow

Dream Storeys by Clara Chow is a book with a refreshing new concept.

Inspired by her friend, the author interviewed a couple of architects and asked them what their dream building were if they had no budget nor space constraints. With their answers, she constructed several different stories based on their descriptions.

She is a talented writer, covering a wide variety of genres and I particularly liked the Sci-Fi short stories she composed.

The Car Park is one of my favourites which chronicled the relationship between a son and his architect father and which had a poignant ending.

The Wheel was another amazing story. It features the world's largest Ferris wheel, the Singapore Flyer, and reimagines it as a political prison housing a large number of inmates in the not so distant future. It was a rather long read, but I was on the edge of my seat all throughout. If The Hunger Games and Survivor married and had a child together, this would be it. I liked how realistic it was and how in a dystopian future, this is a Singapore that I can imagine would turn out.

According to the author, after interviewing the architects, some tales came pretty quickly and organically after the chats. Others gestated a while longer. And some interviews never yielded any stories, yet all the architects had inspiring views which she learnt a lot from.

I thought the book was a really clever idea and the execution was excellent. I'd recommend everyone to read this book, especially aspiring architects.

Get Dream Storeys from Ethos Books today! Click here to go to their online shop.

I also did a YouTube video review on the book, check it out here:

Buffering by Hannah Hart

This book has been one of the most incredible things I've read lately. It's resonated so much with me - let me tell you why.

For the uninformed, Hannah Hart is a YouTube celebrity, but her journey started rather accidentally when she made a video to cheer up a friend many years ago, which ended up becoming a viral hit.
This book is her memoir and traces her story from when she was a kid, all the way to college and beyond.

As a child, she grew up with her mentally unstable mother, but was a happy kid growing up, unaware of that fact, together with her elder sister. Their parents were divorced and she briefly had a stepfather who was a great influence, but sadly he left after a while, unable to take the pressures of the unpredictable wife.

She visited her father regularly and he was a staunch Christian, part of a conservative cult. That's how she came to struggle between her sexual orientation and her faith. It came to a head in college where she found a girlfriend and eventually accepted that she is gay.

I found the chapter Shadowboxer, a defining read for me. Like her, I wrestle with my faith and sexuality (details over here) and found her stories strangely comforting. It helps to know that I am not alone in this.

She also talks honestly about the subject of her own depression and anxiety which also spoke to me. I think people don't realise the impact a celebrity has when he or she reveals that they too, like normal people, have mental health issues. For me, dealing with bipolar disorder has been a rollercoaster ride (details found here) and books of the subject have been rare. So having someone, anyone, talk about any mental health issue candidly and without shame has been very reassuring. Thank you Hannah.

Further in, she deals with self-harm. It is a delicate subject to talk about and she discusses it openly and honestly. I applaud her for that.

Near the end of the book, she tackles the problem facing individuals in America of sending their loved ones to mental health care institutions. People there face difficulty admitting them into those institutions for a variety of reasons and the sick person is unable to get the quality care and attention that he or she requires. This is the system she fought against and she provides a helpful list of readings and references.

I think that regardless of whether you are a fan of Hannah or not, this is a book everyone should read. You'll come away transformed. Grab your copy here today!

I spoke briefly about my book in the YouTube video below:

Disclaimer: Rachel’s Now Reading is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Singapore Love Stories by Various Authors

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, why not surprise the one you love with a book that can keep them intrigued for a long time instead of perishable flowers or chocolates?

This new collection of short stories by Monsoon Books lasted me a good part of a month as I read one story a day for 17 days.

Filled with love stories of every kind, from the secretive courtship of immigrants such as Bangladeshi construction workers with Filipino maids to an ATM Aunt Agony dispensing love advice, this book has quite a variety of stories of every sort.

I particularly liked the futuristic one titled Space, Time and Chicken Rice by Kane Wheatley-Holder which was about an astronaut who got sent into the future.

Also topping my list is Cake by Lee Jing-Jing which is about a pastry chef, deciding not to marry his girlfriend after his father's death after reconnecting with an army buddy and embracing his true orientation.

Most of the stories are refreshing and a breath of fresh air. Perhaps it's the large number of foreign names in this collection that lend a new perspective to love in Singapore.

I don't read fiction much, but this I can say, this is certainly a good book to give to a lover of short stories this Valentine's Day.

Get your copy here today!

I also talked a bit more about other stories over at my YouTube book review channel, check out my video here:

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Rachel’s Now Reading is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. 

Binge by Tyler Oakley

I've been a Tyler Oakley fan since approximately 2 years ago and when I learnt that he wrote a book, I absolutely had to get it.

So after a long year that was 2016, I rewarded myself with my favourite Christmas present - Binge.
This was a fantastic read. It's a sorta memoir, interspersed with nostalgic photos and never-ending sass. It's funny, witty, and altogether Tyler Oakley.

My favourite chapters were:

The Gay Chapter - in which he shares how his friend outed him, how he honed a technique he used to come out to his friends, and how he dealt with his homophobic Christian father.

Thotry of My Life - in which he expounds on how it feels like discovering he has a lisp.

What Michelle Obama Smells Like - in which he talks about how it was like preparing for the interview with the former First Lady and the hilarious mad comedy it was.

I finished the book within a week as it was an easy read and I tried to pace myself so that I could savour the amazing and revealing stories for as long as I could.

I'd encourage every Tyler Oakley fan to get this book. It's BRILLIANT and 110% unabashed Tyler Oakley.

You've slayed it Tyler!

Grab your copy here today!

Check out the YouTube book review where I give away a free copy of Binge to a lucky viewer! (Contest ends 14 February 2017. Good luck!)

Disclaimer: Rachel’s Now Reading is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church by Various Authors

First off, this is going to be a long post, so grab a cup of tea or coffee (or juice if that's what you prefer) before you settle down to read this.

This book comprises the affirming view, in which the authors argue that same-sex relationships and marriages among Christians are permissible, and traditional view where they argue that it's not. Each view is written from the point of view of both a theologian and a biblical scholar, so be prepared, this is a somewhat technical read. Although I must say that it's surprisingly readable even for the layman.
The authors are well-qualified to be contributors in this excellent volume and here's a bit about them lifted from the introduction of the book:

Affirming view

Dr. William Loader (Dr theol, Mainz, Germany)
Widely regarded as the foremost scholar on sexuality in ancient Jerusalem and Christianity, he has written five scholarly volumes on the topic, which he recently summed up in a popular-level volume, Making Sense of Sex.

Bill argues for an affirming view of same-sex relations; however, he fervently believes that we must take the Bible seriously and that the Bible prohibits all forms of same-sex relations. What the Bible says and what the Bible means are very clear - same-sex relations are wrong.

But every faithful application of the Bible to contemporary ethics must consider advancements in biology, anthropology, sociology, and other fields related to sexuality and gender. For hermeneutical and ethical reasons, Loader affirms the sanctity of faithful, monogamous, same-sex relations.

Megan DeFranza (PhD, Marquette University)
An emerging leader in the theological study of sex, gender, and sexuality, her pioneering book Sex Difference in Christian Theology explores how intersex persons challenge the assumption that all people are born clearly or exclusively male or female.

Studying the complexity of biological sex development and the challenges of interpreting the Bible for contemporary theology and ethics opened the door for her to reconsider the non-affirming view of homosexuality that she grew up with.

Megan argues that the prohibition passages are better understood when read in the light of ancient sexual landscapes, dominated as they were by human trafficking, economic exploitation, and differences of power related to assumptions about gender and social class. Biblical passages are not focused on consensual, monogamous, same-sex unions.

Traditional view:

Wesley Hill (PhD, Durham University)
An accomplished biblical scholar and theologian who has written several books and essays related to the topic. Moreover, Wesley is a self-identified gay Christian who has a lot of skin in the game, as it were - as you will see from his opening paragraphs of his essay.

Wesley argues for a non-affirming view of same-sex relations by revisiting the prohibition passages (Lev 18:22; 20:13, Rom 1:26-27, 1 Cor 6:9, 1 Tim 1:9-10) and setting them in conversation with an overarching theology of marriage, sex, and procreation, and enlists Augustine as his primary dialogue partner.

Stephen R. Holmes
A prolific theologian with a long list of highly acclaimed published works, Stephen's essay focuses on theology of sex and marriage and argues that the so-called prohibition passages are important, yet secondary to the debate.

A Christian theology of sex and marriage alone rules out the sanctity of same-sex relations on the grounds that sex and marriage are oriented toward procreation, and same-sex couples cannot procreate. Stephen looks to Augustine's influential treatment of marriage as the foundation for subsequent Christian theological reflection on homosexuality.

Even though Stephen argues for a non-affirming position, he explores the possibility of some sort of pastoral accommodation for gay and lesbian couples in the church, similar to the way Christian leaders have accommodated heterosexual couples who have been remarried after divorce.

My review

And that's basically a summary of the entire book.

However, I'd like to point out the interesting bit about the book. After every chapter where each author expounds on their position (as mentioned above), we have the other 3 contributors giving a robust response to the author's position.

They do so with great civility, which is a great contrast to the debates on homosexuality we have in our society today. Yet, they do not compromise on their own stance which might be firmly opposed to the author's.

Then, the original author provides a rejoinder where he/she responses to the response. Reading the dialogue created in this format is not only insightful, but also very interesting. More so than just reading only the original author's piece. Props to Zondervan for pioneering this format of discussion!

I will focus this review on the more interesting takeaways I got out of the book.

The prohibition passages

William Loader begins the book by exploring in great detail the various prohibition passages found in the Bible. So much so that I thought he held the traditional view.

If you've got no idea what they are, by the end of it, you'd be very well-versed in them.
What I was surprised to find was that he held an affirming view. Get the book to find out why.

The intersex

Megan DeFranza is an expert on the topic of the intersex and how it intersects with Christian theology. Having read her first book, Sex Difference in Christian Theology, I was very excited when I found out she was a contributor in this volume and I was certainly not disappointed.

In her chapter, she points out how the intersex is not alone in nature. Just as amphibians who live both on land and in water, dawn/dusk which blends both day and night, the intersex are neither male nor female.

Who are they then to marry?

So DeFranza argues that although "Adam and Eve may be the majority story, but they are not the exclusive model for what it means to be human. By extension, heterosexual marriage can be seen as the majority story, not the exclusive model."

Also, she expounds on the uses and origins of the word malakoi and arsenokoitais, explaining that they could mean effeminate and refer to men as being "soft ones" as they were like women and that they lack self-control. This was a big thing in ancient cultures as women were seen to be less than humans and to be associated as one was the greatest insult.

Something interesting I learnt was the fact that we might not want to read arsenokoitai as a reference to Leviticus 18 and 20 because compound words to not always mean what the sum of their parts suggests. As English speakers, we know that "understanding" has nothing to do with "standing" or location "beneath." Here she quotes from Dale Martin, the author of Sex and the Single Savior.
I thought she made a strong case for the affirming view.

Spiritual Friendship

Similarly, I've been a fan of Wesley Hill since he published his first book, Washed and Waiting, which was a mini-memoir of his life as a gay Christian and also includes some theological reflections.
I've also read his subsequent one, Spiritual Friendship, where he explores the history of friendships of ancient Christians. It also draws from areas of his own life where as a celibate gay Christian man, he is committed to living his life out with a close heterosexual couple, sharing a house together.

In Two Views on Homosexuality, he elaborates a little bit about what Spiritual Friendship is at the end of his chapter and I thought it was a great introduction to something that might be foreign to a great majority of Christians in this day and age where friendship seems ephemeral as people move across a country for work.

Augustinian view on marriage

Stephen Holmes does a good job expounding on the Augustinian view on marriage. Before reading this, I had no idea what this was.

Also, he explores the topic of marriage in Christian history in great depth.

Finally, I thought it was very gracious of him to admit that even after an extensive study of this topic, he might be wrong about it all.

In conclusion

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book even though it was rather technical at certain parts.

I would highly encourage everyone to get a copy of this book if they are interested in finding out both the affirming and traditional views of homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church.

Also, it provides the common arguments for and against each view and that alone was worth the price of this book.


Grab your copy here today!

Check out my YouTube book review here:

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Rachel’s Now Reading is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

After You by Cyril Wong

I've always found Cyril Wong's poetry to be rather cryptic (what little I've read of them) so it was rather unusual for me to purchase one of his books from Books Actually when I was there recently.

But this one is different from the rest. A cursory reading made me rather interested in this thin volume and I felt compelled to buy it.

This is a collection of poems devoted to his partner and the thread of dedicated love runs seamlessly through the entire book. Regardless of whether the poem dealt with the themes of death, life in Singapore, gayness, the intense love for his partner is apparent.

I was gushing about it to my friend who teaches English Literature and she commented that the poems were rather "romantic". I feel that they are so much more than that. They are exuding affection with a dash of sobering reality. I must admit that I don't do the book justice.

As such, I would recommend that everyone read this book. My favourite is "Temple", what about yours?

Still Life by Gillian Marchenko

Still Life is a memoir of a woman living with depression. It resonates with me because I have also been through the debilitating effects of the same condition.

This is the life story of a mother and wife to a pastor and it is honest and unflinching. She spends days lying in bed, unable to parent her children, leaving everything to the care of her husband. Once, her daughter even had to ask her to come downstairs for dinner, only to be rejected by the author.

Fortunately, she eventually sees a therapist and a psychiatrist and begins the arduous climb back to a more normal life. Her therapist challenges her and talks her through her depressive episodes.

I think this book also teaches one how to be a friend to one who is chronically depressed. The author had a friend who accepted her just as she was, never passing any judgement, just letting the author know she had someone she could talk to whenever she needed to unload. That is precious.

It is a sobering read and I would encourage those suffering from depression, their friends, and their family to get a copy of this book to better understand the illness and how it might be managed.

Grab your copy here today!

Check out my YouTube review her:

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Rachel’s Now Reading is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Get Lucky by Various Authors

I guess this book is my first extensive exposure to Filipino culture. I've always had colleagues who were from The Philippines but have never asked them to talk about their life and culture juxtaposed to living in Singapore in great detail.

This book does just that.

I enjoyed reading the poems, although they were of uneven quality - some were really good, others mediocre. Yet all of them revealed a slice of the author's life. Some were of missing their family back home, some were of delicious food they were used to.

The short stories were fascinating too. I wonder how real they were. Seemed pretty much based on reality to me.

The essays were most interesting. I particularly liked the one that detailed the life of an Filipino academic teaching at a local Singaporean university for a stint and which compared the two countries.

Also included in the book are some entries by famous Singaporean writers. I loved Edwin Thumboo's but found Desmond Kon's rather bewildering. To each his own I suppose.

You can find out more about the production process of this book at the Get Lucky Anthology website.

If you'd like to buy a copy, head over to the Ethos website to get one today!

Also check out my YouTube review here:

Saving the Bible from Ourselves by Glenn R. Paauw

The basic premise of this book is simple: The Bible's form has been corrupted by human hands and we are today unable to read the Bible as it was originally read by the 1st century believers. Our Christianity has been shaped by cut up verses and is suffering as a result. The solution? Reintroduce the Elegant Bible sans verse and chapter numbers once more.

I found this an immediately captivating read from the get go.

As someone who'd been involved in Bible publishing for the past twenty years, Paauw noticed a disturbing trend on the rise: Christians and even churches tend to dole out Bible McNuggets instead of serving a proper, full-fledged feast from our favourite book.

The biggest takeaway I had from this book was the importance of reading the Bible as a whole. When dissected and taken apart, one can read anything he or she wishes from it. One would tend to cherry pick one's favourite verses and ignore the rest. The form of the Bible affects the Christianity we practice. When sliced and spliced, we have a dried and cut up, distilled faith that is far from nourishing and distant from the purposes of the original authors.

Learn about how chapter and verse numbers came to be and why they are detrimental to the reading of the Bible. Learn about how the Bible should be read and how you can appreciate its nuances.
I did find the middle part of the book to be a tad heavy and slightly draggy, but that only lasted for two chapters.

It was to my extreme delight that there was a viable alternative suggested by the author and I will soon order it.

I would recommend all Christians to read this book in order to gain a better understanding of the Bible you are reading and how you can get more out of it.

Grab your copy here today!

Check out my YouTube review here:

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Rachel’s Now Reading is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Kappa Quartet by Daryl Qilin Yam

Kappa Quartet is unlike any novel I’ve ever read. It’s got the magical realism elements of Murakami weaved together with the page-turning anticipation of J. K. Rowling.
Each of the 8 chapters is narrated by a different character, which gives different facets of the story. The book is about Alvin, a Singaporean, who was born without a soul. He lived normally all his life until a visit to Japan made him realise what he lacked. He began to desire to have a soul and then went around to get one. I’ll leave out the ending so that you can read the book and discover it for yourself.
As a fan of all things Japanese, I loved the setting and the many details scattered throughout the book. It was also my first time learning about kappas which are spirits, or demons if you like, hanging around water bodies. You might find out more from the link to Wikipedia I attached in the previous sentence, but if you’d like to gain the full impact of the story, just go into Kappa Quartet blind and learn about kappas from the book itself.  I think that would make for a more interesting experience.
This is a book I’m gonna read again and again just like the Harry Potter series.
Absolutely LOVED it.
Also, check out my YouTube review here:

Disclaimer: Rachel’s Now Reading is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach

I was alerted to this book while reading an interview starring Alan Jacobs who has just published a new book, "How to Think", so I decided to borrow it from the library.

It does not disappoint.

I learnt about how we think we know more than we do. Try explaining how a zipper work in detail. Or a toilet. (The book actually explains to us how a toilet works and you'd be surprised how even people who seem very certain will miss out a detail or two - I did an experiment and asked a friend, so you're welcome).

The authors then explain why this is dangerous - we read stories of plane crashes and ships running ashore due to an over-familiarity coupled with a lack of understanding of the technology that powers these modern machines.

And when you find out that people who are against genetically modified food not only want those types of food to be labelled when surveyed, but also insisted on having food containing DNA to be labelled, you know that perhaps they don't know as much as they think.

Politics is also like that, and the authors suggested that instead of a pure democracy, where people might vote for things they do not have a complete understanding of, having a representative democracy where people choose those most well-informed to make decisions for them might be a better alternative.

Yet, we also find out how humans managed to progress because of the fact that they shared their knowledge.

Filled with witty remarks throughout, this makes for an entertaining read.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who'd like to find out what gaps in knowledge they might have and what they can do to remedy it.

Grab your copy today!

Disclaimer: Rachel’s Now Reading is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Grieving a Suicide by Albert Y. Hsu


I’ve been directly impacted by three suicides in my thirty years of living. The first was a cousin I wasn’t close to, she died by suicide several years ago after a breakup with a boyfriend. The second was my ex-manager about 2-3 years ago after an argument with his wife. The last was Chester Bennington a couple months back, and although I’m no friend nor family of his, his death has shaken me and made more aware of my mortality.

This is why I decided to review this book by IVPress. Although it was first published in 2002, it has been revised and expanded and feels very up-to-date and relevant today.

Clarifying some terminology

I learnt several terms which I might clarify here just to make it easier for my readers. A “suicide survivor” usually refers to the person (whether a friend, a spouse, a sibling, a parent, or a child) left behind after a loved one dies by suicide. Also, the author prefers to use the phrase “died by suicide” because it is not a crime one “commits”, nor is it a project one successfully “completes” so the terms “commit suicide”, and “completed suicide” were avoided.

How the book is organised

The author, being a survivor of suicide himself after his father’s death, understands that the immediate period following a suicide can be disorienting and suggests helpfully that one can read the book in any order he/she wishes as some parts may prove more helpful than others. For myself, I read the book sequentially one chapter after the next from the first to the last and found that this was most helpful for me.

The book is divided into three parts:
  • Part 1: When suicide strikes
  • Part 2: The lingering questions
  • Part 3: Life after suicide
The first part of the book touches on the various states of mind one might be in right after experiencing the suicide of a friend, colleague or family member. The chapters appropriately titled: “Shock”, “Turmoil”, “Lament”, “Relinquishment”, and “Remembrance” accurately describes how I felt after learning about what happened to my ex-manager. The author also helpfully describes how he experienced life after his father’s death and also references other similar books on the topic.

The second section deals with suicide survivors asking, “Why did this happen?” and also theological questions that pop up, such as whether suicide is the unforgivable sin. Finally, it wraps up with the perennial question of “Where is God when it hurts?”. For Christians, this can be very helpful in providing a framework of how to process the suicide of a loved one. It’s honest and frank and does not beat about the bush with pertinent questions one might have.

In the third and final portion, the author relates to us lessons of suicide, the spirituality of grief, and the also shares about the healing community. He shares about his experience with a support group of suicide survivors which was an incredible source of relief for him because he was around a group of “people who understood the grief of suicide.” He also suggests an online resource for countries or cities without suicide survivor support groups. The Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors (http://forum.allianceofhope.org) has a forum that allows people to connect with other survivors.


Even though I’ve experienced three suicides, those that died were not super close to me and I was shielded from the direct impact of their deaths. However, the most recent death of Chester Bennington did wake me up to realise that people do indeed care. The global outpouring of grief after his death made me promise to myself not to do something similar even in difficult times. This book has been very useful in helping me process my grief and I’m sure will also be a good tool for this impacted by suicide.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Rachel’s Now Reading is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

*Note: This review first appeared at my other blog.