When reviewing a book, I look at the plot, the prose, and the intangibles: the way the book makes me feel, how it makes me think, what it pushes me to do. Obviously, most fiction books don’t push you to do anything (except maybe read some more). The nonfictions—is that even a word?—are another matter. For instance, I read In Defense of Food and started cutting out additives in my diet. I read The Last Lecture and refocused on my dreams. If these intangibles were the only measure of a book, I’d give More Than the Tattooed Mormon by Al Carraway a whopping 10/10 (which reminds me, I will now be giving my book reviews a 1-10 rating—surprise!). However, there are a few more considerations I have to make…
Al Carraway is a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has tattoos (duh). The book details her conversion to the gospel, her subsequent pilgrimage to Utah (she was born and raised in Rochester, New York), and her journey throughout the next several years of her life. Although this book talks about her, it’s not so much about her as it is about the gospel of Christ and how she—and the reader—can use it to find happiness and joy.
As a lover of the gospel, she started sharing it via blog posts and speaking engagements. Although she never received compensation for those engagements—in fact, she spent a a great of her own money to get to her events—she sacrificed in order to help others. It’s through these experiences that she gained more than she ever gave.
There wasn’t much I didn’t like about this book. I love how she talked about the problems and fear that we all have, those things—like trials and temptations—that make us feel alone when in fact they are universal to every human being. I don’t know what it is, but I’m drawn to quotes, talks, scripture verses—anything, really—that has to do with trials and overcoming them:
“Our trials move us closer to where things are greater than they ever could have been before. Your stormy journey may be taking much longer than you desire or feel you have the strength to endure, but do no let discouragement stop you from trying and turning to HIm. Hard times will consistently be there—that won’t change—but so will Christ. And with Him we are able to overcome and conquer absolutely everything—every feeling of loneliness, discomfort, weakness, sadness, and temptation. Do not let your trials dictate and alter your perception of truths and promises given. Hold on to what you know; it will be you anchor in the storms. He will never give up on you. Do not give up on Him.”
She has good advice about appreciating the now and seeking to change. None of the advice is particularly surprising—you’ve probably heard it or a version of it before—but that Al Carraway has a way with words. Most of all, she advises you not to stress about the things you can’t change (like being married RIGHT NOW).
The only complaint I have is that there’s quite a bit of reputation and short, choppy sentences. Some choppiness is okay, but too much can give you a headache (or maybe it’s just me). She writes this book like she talks as in I imagine reading this book would be a lot like hearing her speak. That being said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. People like short, easy sentences and there is a place for that sort of writing, like in inspirational books.
This book made me happy and inspired me to be a better person. Really, what more could you want?