Monday, October 15, 2007

Amy Grant -- Mosaic

I recently read Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far by Amy Grant (in about two sittings, to be exact). It's not a biography, so don't expect a year by year account of her life. It's a series of vignettes, funny and sad memories, and those deep thoughts that living seems to evoke, especially living as a mother. She shares experiences with her first born, her last born, and the love of her family and friends, the place in her heart that some physical places hold, and even ruminates on how a conversation with a homeless stranger affected her outlook. As a songwriter, she often expresses herself poetically, and some of her lyrics are included throughout the book where they fit. It adds depth to the songs you probably know by heart, and it doesn't take many pages to see that her prose is no less dramatic:

Just hearing the word vacation now conjures up memories of those overnight drives. I can still hear the sound of my mother's unscrewing of the thermos lid and pouring Dad another cup, the comforting smell of black coffee wafting through the car. The quiet of the lonesome highway.

I brand myself every morning when I wake up and look in the mirror. You're puffy. . .not puffy. . . Getting older . . . I see gray hairs. I've decided it's time to start reminding myself of some other words that are true: "You are made in the image of God. You are the salt of the earth."

I enjoy any passing conversation that starts with, "You don't know me, but I knew your. . ." because sometimes it takes a total stranger to fill in the missing pieces of your family puzzle.

As he pushed me under the surface of the river, all the weight of grief and pain washed downstream. The prayer I didn't even realize I had been desperately praying for such a long time was now answered. I was awestruck with the newness. Amazed. Loved. Clean.

When I was asked to participate in the blog tour for Amy Grant's book, I had to think about it. Did I want to read this book and share my opinions about it? I was pretty sure that I wanted to read it, but could I post honestly, yet with grace, regarding my feelings, knowing that I have some preconceived notions? In the end, I decided that I was ready to move past some hard feelings I've held about some of the choices she's made (regarding divorce and remarriage). I thought that reading her own words would help me to let go of the judgment I've carried. It is not my right to judge her. This is not a tell-all book, but her divorce and remarriage are an integral part of her life, so it is mentioned. Aside from the fact that her choices did not personally affect me or anyone I know, I think that the log in my eye is a reminder that I should be careful trying to remove the speck from hers. I do continue to worry that someone else who is in a less-than-happy marriage would be tempted to leave that marriage in order to find the storybook ending that Amy Grant has found with Vince Gill, but that was only a little bit of what I took away from reading this book. As I read veiled references to this time in her life, I saw a deep understanding of God's perfect love and forgiveness, for as Jesus Himself said, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Sin is serious, and the way we treat sin is equally serious, but in the Christian life, grace abounds from God, so should it not be equally extended from one Christian sister to another? It's a lesson that I've needed to learn, and I'm glad that I was able to read this book with an open heart so that I could begin to let go of some bitterness.

The fact that her life has caused so many people to react in some way towards her (myself included) is a testimony to her influence. She is the best-selling Christian artist of all time. You can go to her website, and get free downloads of two of the songs featured in Mosaic. I also have three copies of the book to give away. Tell me why you would like to read this book, based on this review or any other personal reasons, and I'll select three names at random on Thursday, October 18 (U.S. only this time).

Janice has reviewed this book as well at 5 Minutes for Books at 5 Minutes for Mom.


Carrie K. said...

I have a curiosity to read this book for some of the same reasons you mentioned. I've also had the same thoughts about her divorce and remarriage through the years, and although I still believe that divorce is not the answer to an unhappy marriage, I can now at least understand her decision. Not condone it, but understand it. And that comes after being married for almost 13 years to a man I love very much, and yet we have had some difficult times.

Anyway, count me in for the drawing - and thanks!

e-Mom said...

Interesting Jennifer! I'm glad I stopped by. I've been thinking about Amy Grant recently (why?) and now I run across this post. I don't know too much about Amy, nor did I know she was divorced and remarried. I'd love a copy of this book, so please include my name in your drawing. Thanks. e-Mom :~)

Katrina said...

Well, you know my thoughts, and that I, too, have had some bitter judgments of Amy as well, because of the influence she's had tied with the choices she's made. I really appreciate your perspective, and the reminder that I've got plenty of my own logs to deal with! I'd love to win a copy of the book, to hopefully move toward seeing her more as a real person, and less as a series of decisions that have been made public.

Mama Zen said...

I would love to learn more about Amy's life.

Jenni said...

you are the third person on my blogroll to read and review this book today. I've been an Amy Grant fan for a long time, but also had issues with her divorce. I'd be interested in reading more about her life from her own perspective.

Andrea said...

I like Amy Grant and I would love to read this book. You know how to reach me.

Lori said...

I too love to hear Amy Grant sing and posted about it just last year at this time when we saw her in concert. Please include me in the drawing as I would love to read this book.

Andrea said...

I have also had some issues with some of the things that have happened in Amy's life and would like to read her book to see what she has to say about it all.

Cocoa said...

I grew up listening to Amy Grant and now have my daughters hooked on her as well. I'd love to learn more about her life and see the influence it made on her music.

Beck said...

I love how well you wrote about your worries in reviewing this book - it is SO hard to decide how much of an artist's personal life should come into whether or not I listen to (or read) them...

Lauren@Baseballs&Bows said...

Jennifer, this is a little off topic, but I didn't want to comment at 5M4M because I have already read The Choice and didn't need to win. I loved Three Weeks with My Brother. Even though it is nonfiction, it is one of Sparks' best books. I think you will really enjoy it. How neat that you got to talk with him. I will look forward to reading more about your interview.

Anonymous said...

Jen Jen, count me in!!! I share your feelings about Amy Grant and would love to read her book. I was visiting a friend in Dallas last weekend and she told me that she remembers hearing me play Amy Grant's Age to Age cassette (doesn't that date us?) so much during our year living together in college that she had every song memorized by the end of the year. She was not a christian then but is now and said that even today when she hears one of the songs from that album that it reminds her of my love for the Lord (what a compliment) and His love for her. My friends is a testimony of Gods grace and mercy and would love to share the book with her about Amy's journey!

Patriot said...

The Amy Grant Christmas CD will still be playing at my house this year. :o)

I just wanted to let you know that I'm hosting a new giveaway at my site this week! Please feel free to come by and enter for some more great American made products!!

Thank you!

Joyful Days said...

Amy's music has been a part of my life for over 20 (did I really say that) years. I was never a fan, as in following her life story fan--I just liked her music and was blessed by it.

It was only after her divorce & remarriage that I paid attention to her private life. (I was a fan of Vince Gill's music too.) And at this point I would like to know a little more about her.

Count me in for the giveaway, please!

Kathleen Marie said...

I have planned to read this book but like you I have pre-conceived notions. I cannot fathom the pain her divorce must have caused her but I know as a Christian I must be compassionate and like you, non-judgmental.

I feel like I have grown up with Amy Grant. I remember singing praise and worships sounds with her records. Her Christian album is one of my favorites. It has been a family tradition.

Thank you for reviewing this book.

God Bless!

carrie said...

I enjoyed reading your post and appreciate your honesty. I have been a long-time fan of Amy's music and sang many of her and Gary's (Chapman, her 1st husband) songs in youth group.

I would be very interested to read more of her story and what God's taught her on her journey. Thanks for entering me in your drawing!

Leah in Iowa said...

I've always been a fan of Amy Grant's music, and would like to hear her own words about her life over the past many years. It's actually on my list of books to read for Katrina's Fall Into Reading challenge!

Elysa said...

Dear Jennifer---

Please enter me in your drawing. I'm a SAHM with 7 kids so buying books is usually not in the budget...unless its homeschool books, that is.

I was a teenager when Amy Grant hit the world by storm and for many years, her songs were the soundtracks to many of my days. Her's were the song I sang at specal Christmas programs and the the songs I listened to while driving down African roads as a missionary.

It broke my heart when she and Gary Chapman divorced and I still can't listen to her old Christmas album without feeling sad and crying a bit.

But as you said in your review, its about grace and forgiveness and the Good Lord knows that I've had more than my share of failures and heartbreaks.

I'd love to have the chance to read about Amy's life and the journey that she's still walking with our precious, loving Lord.

Elysa Mac

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

Jennifer, Thanks for such an honest review of this book and for sharing your feelings, as well.

I've been a fan of Amy Grant for years, and saw her Christmas concert with Michael W. Smith 3 years in a row. The 3rd year came right on the heels of her divorce, and I remember having such mixed emotions on that topic. What I finally decided was that I did not know her circumstances. Period. But what I do know is that I love her music, and that it has touched my heart for over 20 years.

Every year as I prepare for Christmas, her Christmas CDs sit waiting for exactly the right time. The first time each year is emotional, taking me back to a dark country highway, driving to my grandparents' house for the holidays and singing at the top of my lungs. Sounds corny, but it's true.

Now that I've written a book in your comments, maybe I can win one, too. Thanks for a wonderful giveaway!

Coach J said...

Thanks for you honesty about Amy Grant. I think I feel some of what you do, but since I'm not personally involved, I have told myself that I have no right to hold anything against her. (Not that I would have if I was personally involved...)
I'd love to win a copy of this book, and will go check out her website to get those free downloads.
I found you through Julie at Joyful Days.

Jim said...

I would like to hear more about Amy's influential life.

escapedfromthemanor said...

If my life had a soundtrack (which it will when they, whomever THEY are, wrtie my biography and then adapt it to the big screen) Amy Grant's music would be a big part of each phase. I have always appreciated how she doesn't try to appear perfect and is honest about her shortcomings. Knowing about her personal life through interviewers' summaries and PR releases, I would love to read the book and see her perspective and personal view of her life thus far.