I haven't done any book reviews on my blog yet, and I realize that's a crying shame. I'm remedying that as we speak. At the very least, they'll help me remember what I once read, but hopefully it'll help propagate the good stuff and weed out the bad stuff (good and bad being totally reflective of my opinions, which is just the way I like it.)
Why I read this book
This book came highly recommended by Mark Mittelberg. Since I'm currently writing my testimony in book form, Mark suggested I read a powerful testimony that was written more recently than Lee Strobel's Case for Christ. Another reason I wanted to dig into it is because, as I work more and more with RZIM, I'm migrating back towards cultural apologetics and Christian-Atheist issues. Plus, I had heard that Holly had a background in literature, which always makes for exciting reading :-)
When it arrived, my first reaction was: "It's blessedly short! I'll actually get through it!" And get through it I did, in about a day. I could not put it down! It's a captivating tapestry of pithy apologetic chapters interwoven with "flash forwards" to her walk as a new believer. The 'short chapters plus suspense' formula is a sure winner, always managing to convince me that I can read "just one more chapter!" before turning in.
My second reaction was to the cover of her book. Very eye-catching, and it spurred more than one conversation as I carried it around that day.
Through recounted dialogues with her fencing coach, Holly helps us relive her months-long journey from inveterate atheist to bourgeoning believer. Without going into the deeper matters of atheist-Christian dialogue, Holly presents enough of the arguments to provide solid Christian responses to basic atheist assumptions and positions. Most of the reasoning focuses on the existence of God, although some directly Christian issues are addressed, like the Resurrection. Personally, I think Atheist-Holly went way too easy on the Bible and on Jesus' claims to deity, but perhaps that's simply because I'm a former Muslim who had to struggle with those two issues alone for years :-)
One striking characteristic of her writing is that it is unassuming; here is an author indeed in whom there is no deceit. Her voice is not gratuitously personal, and yet I felt disarmed while reading it. Perhaps on account of its sincerity, perhaps on account of the flash-forwards, I did not catch the usual "character development -- climax/conflict -- resolution" formula that carries people along, and which some people need to feel like they've read a good story. But frankly, I don't think this book required it. The tastefully simple artistry of her writing kept me reading.
But I have to admit a bias here: the moment she quoted one of my favorite poets of all-time, John Keats, she had me. And John Donne was the icing on my poetry cake. So I may be more than slightly inclined to her writing, but I must admit, I can't wait until she writes her next piece! Who knows, maybe she'll quote Andrew Marvell, and I'll spontaneously combust.
I highly recommend Holly Ordway's book as an artfully engaging introduction to the intellectual realm of Atheist-Christian dialogue. Although I would not recommend this book to someone who requires a deeper treatment of the issues, it might be good to give to such a person if they wish to hear about thinkers, who happened to be hardened atheists, choosing to accept Jesus. Finally, on account of its length, this book is especially good for those who are intimidated by long books. But I have a feeling even they will wish she had written more.