In English Lessons: The Crooked Path to Growing towards Faith, Andrea Lucado shares her journey of self-discovery as a graduate student in England for a year.
Title: English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith
Author: Andrea Lucado
Publishing Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Waterbook and Multnomah
Goodreads rating: 5 Stars
In English Lessons: The Crooked Path to Growing towards Faith, Andrea Lucado shares her journey of self-discovery as a graduate student in England for a year. The author yearned for freedom and a change of scenery (she mentions something to do with a break up) especially since she is the daughter of a renowned pastor and by default her childhood equalled Christianity. She draws parallels between in her life in warm sunny Texas where she felt sheltered by her strong Christian upbringing and her life phase in England that had people who shared a completely different belief system.
To be honest, I picked up this book because I was curious to know about Andrea’s perspective and her own personal journey because as she states in the book, people think that the “faith of our fathers (and mothers)” is automatically transmitted to future generations and it is not a given. There comes a time in every young person’s life where they have to define their own values which sometimes may be divergent from their upbringings. For me, Andrea addresses this issue from a Christian’s perspective in a raw but respectful manner. From my own living abroad experience, I have to admit that I met people from all walks of life including atheists, secularists and humanists and made me wonder if I would still lean toward Christianity if those values had not been inculcated in me from an early age. Nonetheless, I have made good friends and learnt a lot about the “give and take” dynamics of a relationship.
The tone of the book is blunt, conversational and witty to the point where I felt that she has given the reader glimpses into her journal. I tend to feel like this book was indirectly written as a journal entry. Unlike most of the Christian-faith based books that I have read before, it was not jammed with memory verses which I found quite interesting since she was still able to deliver her core message. Though she does quote renowned Christian authors like C.S. Lewis (How could she not? She was in Oxford!)
Generally, I find it difficult to rate memoirs and personal accounts because they are just that. Personal. There is no right or wrong way to convey one’s experiences. Nonetheless, I have to admit that I highly resonated with this book since I could clearly map her experience in England on to my own during my own graduate experience abroad.
One of the parts that made me giggle in the book is when she how felt like Starbucks was an American Embassy which is so stereotypically American.But I also recalled my own hunt for Kenyan-like tea since British/Scottish folk like their tea with lots of tea with a dash of milk. Kenyans, like Indians, love milky brewed chai. If you can add tea masala, the better. It reminded me of how everyone seeks a sense of familiarity and belonging in a new place and sometimes, that may not be immediate and how it is important to find coping mechanisms.
The book cover and illustrations at the beginning of the chapters are absolutely stunning and do give a wonderful introduction to the introducing the readers to each section. I mean this was a definitely one of the things that made me want to pick this book from Netgalley in the first place! Hence would make a wonderful gift. Heck, I would even buy the prints if they were available.
This would be a perfect gift to slip into your friend, sibling or child’s hands just before they go studying abroad especially for an extended period of time. It would be comforting read to know that in a sense have taken a similar route and it is in a sense an opportunity to discover oneself with the glaring eyes of one’s usual audiences; to answer the introspective question: who are you when no one familiar is looking. Even though you are not studying abroad, it would also be a good and reflective book for when you are stuck in a ‘spiritual’ rut. I know that I am definitely going to be looking for my own personal copy.