I am a book reviewer for NetGalley, which means I received this book for free in exchange for a review. Click here for more information.
Author: Kayla Aimee
Genre/category: Non-fiction/Christian life
Where can I buy it? Here
Release date: 6th February 2018
First of all: Kayla Aimee is a great writer.
She has this way of making you feel … comfortable. Accepted. Welcomed. Understood. This is really key for the message she is trying to send. In Bloom explores what happens when you silently absorb the messages that the world around you have given you. What happens when other people’s words reduce you, when you allow them to define you. What happens when you start to lose touch with who God thinks you are.
What happens when shame starts to take root in your life.
I’ve been a Christian for a long time now, and I was sure I’d had all the bases covered, introspective-prayer-wise. I didn’t decide to believe in God in a neat and tidy conversion experience: it was actually a long, messy process that involved a lot of thought (I mean, you know how I like to think about stuff). It involved a ton of prayer. And an awful lot of unraveling all the things I had previously believed about the world and my place in it.
And yet, while I read this book, some small, hidden, niggly little things started to come to the surface. Words people had spoken over me that I had absorbed, but forgotten about. Somewhere they remain in me, and they have a way of changing the way I think and behave. How is that possible? How is it that comments from years and years ago can still sting even now? Aimee kind of describes it here:
‘The small slight that we are currently agonizing over is magnified by the power of memory. It somehow soaks up all the spillover we never quite mopped up from earlier brush-offs. It becomes every rejection all over again, rolled into one.’
With sensitivity and humour, Aimee covers topics like rejection, friendships, feeling insignificant and how social media inflames that, self-esteem, body confidence, love, jealousy, spreading yourself too thinly, longing for approval, and taking people as they are. She ties it all up in an encouraging way: you’ve said this about yourself? God says this. You feel this way about your body? Well, God says this. And all for the hope of a better, newer, more exciting, more meaningful life, free of shame and fear and labels that no longer fit us, enabling us to encourage others to see themselves differently, too, holding a candle up to each others strengths, and learning to celebrate one another’s successes.
She is also unafraid of gently challenging the way we deal with certain topics within the Christian faith. In the chapter ‘Between the Sheets’, she discusses how the purity culture within certain denominations can be damaging, particularly for young women. She also tackles the subject of the Proverbs 31 woman, and how Christians have taken what was originally intended as a blessing song for husbands to sing to their wives over a Sabbath meal, into a list of impossible-to-live-up-to instructions on female existence, and whether we can finally let go of that ‘perfect Christian woman’ ideal.
Mostly, In Bloom is a celebration of the new things God can do, and is doing, in us. How to shake off shame in order to concentrate on the tasks God has given you to do.
‘It’s a laborious remaking, a rebuilding, but the thing about God is that even when you burn it all down, He is quite capable of restoring from ashes.’
In Bloom made me remember the rebuilding God has done in my own life, and the work still to do. I plan on buying a copy for, like, everyone’s birthday for the next year or so. (You’re welcome, friends and family.) I can’t recommend it enough.