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Review: Shaken by Eric Walters

Shaken by Eric Walters

Fifteen year old Josh is off on a mission trip to Haiti with his father and sister, but he does not really want to go.  In fact, he is negative about almost everything, and no wonder.  Despite intense prayer his mother recently died, and Josh is bitter with both God and his preacher father.

But here he is, off to Haiti, and despite his cynicism about everything from his father’s prayers to Christianity itself, he is shocked by real life on the island.  Beginning with the rescue of his little sister’s back pack containing their dead mother’s sweater, and continuing as he gets to know Naomi, Philippe and Louidor, Josh is confronted with a life he never imagined.  And then, there’s an earthquake….

Shaken describes not only earthquake-torn Haiti, but also Josh’s faith.  Near the end of the book Josh says:  “What I do know is that we need to act like there is a God.  That no matter what, we have to try to do the right thing.”  Even though he is not convinced of God’s existence, he ends with “I’ll be taken care of.  I just finished walking through hell.  And even in hell, there was still an angel walking along with me.”

Shaken could shake the faith of a teen reader, because Eric Walters raises hard questions and points out difficult problems.  His conclusions are ambivalent and unsatisfactory.   For example, Josh and his father talk about strengthened belief even though they both wonder about God’s very existence!

However, despite crushing questions, Christian faith is based on actual truth, not only on feelings. (For more about that, see my review of Total Truth.)

Because this book addresses many troubling issues, I cannot recommend it for teens unless someone is willing to work through it with them.  Unfortunately, my teen read it before I did. After I have worked through Shaken with her I will probably be writing about our thoughts.  In the meantime, read this book before you give it to your teens…and if they have already read it, please read it and go through it with them.

On the other hand, if properly discussed Shaken can be an excellent preparation for the challenges our teens will face in the world.

The following books could help with discussions about topics raised in Shaken (links are to my reviews):

Truth Matters This resource directly addresses some of the points raised in Shaken and is addressed to young people.

Clear Winter Nights

Total Truth

True Reason

Beyond Opinion

The Best Things in Life

Four Letter Words

Thriving at College

This is yet another book in the in the 2014 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Works for Me Wednesdays, Booknificent Thursdays, Raising HomemakersFinishing Strong , and Trivium Tuesdays.

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from our library and am not compensated for this review in any way.

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