Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Husband by Aaron Daniel Behr – Honest, Vulnerable Christian Literature

The landscape of Christian literature, and of Christian discussion generally, lacks an honesty.

There’s a difference between telling the truth and honesty.  Telling the truth is the virtue of speaking accurately, honesty is the virtue of presenting all of the truth.

Two people can tell the truth, they can each speak accurately, objectively even, but paint two very different pictures of the same event.  To win in the marketing industry is to find a way to be the most dishonest without saying anything untrue.

Honesty, on the other hand, is to present the whole truth, the whole context. When your spouse says “Be honest with me…” she’s not asking you to make an accurate statement, she’s imploring you to tell her everything, even to divulge your most unflattering motivations.

To be honest as a writer is challenging.  Telling the truth is easy, but there’s no cross examination in a book or an essay, it is the writer’s liberty to craft a single-sided argument, to tell true things which support the narrative and leave out the rest.

The Husband by Aaron Daniel BehrAaron Daniel Behr, however, has achieved a triumph of honesty with The Husband.  The book recounts the true (there’s that word again) story of his wife’s adultery and demand for a divorce and Aaron’s journey to cope with his mental illness,  Aaron has surely not presented every side of the events.  Such a book would be cumbersome and ultimately very boring.  But he has plainly and intentionally left the cracks in his own narrative, like tilted mini blinds, so that you can see through to the other side of the story.

As his developmental editor, it was my pleasure to work with Aaron to guide him as he refined and crafted The Husband.  I can truthfully say that he achieved so much in this narrative and it is an excellent book. And I can honestly say that the book reached a quality level that far surpassed my highest hopes. This book belongs on the shelf next to Donald Miller.

I’ve read Christian testimonial type literature before. The format is simple: I was broken (the more broken the better), then I met Jesus and now I’m fixed.  There’s a truth to that, and without a doubt, those stories are useful.

But The Husband is different, and I’ve never read anything quite like it before.  Aaron, narrating his own story, knows Jesus from start to finish, but he’s still stuck in this world of sin—his own brokenness and the brokenness of those around him.  Aaron recounts that as he prepared to hang himself from the home gym in his basement, one of his last actions was to search for an article online that told him suicide wouldn’t send him to hell.  His faith is present throughout, and it’s in tact, but he is not fixed. His life is not fixed.  His faith is not the climax of the story, it’s the premise.

Being a Christian is hard. How do we reconcile the ways other Christians hurt us with our understanding of Biblical community? How do we reconcile our sin towards others with the idea of God living inside of us?  How do we cope with our own mental illness, when the Bible promises that Jesus will make us a new creation? This is the stuff of being a real Christian.  These are the questions that separate the Sunday-morning box checkers, from the followers of Jesus trying to live His kingdom on earth.  Our faith is lived in the hard questions.

We need more books like The Husband. We need more Christian authors like Aaron Daniel Behr.

The Husband was released by Columbus Press on January 23. It is available on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, iTunes, and Kobo, among other retailers.

Learn more about The Husband here, or learn more about Aaron at www.AaronDanielBehr.com.

Hagridden by Samuel Snoek-Brown

Full disclosure: my company, Columbus Press, produced this book.

I love post apocalyptic stories.  Nothing brings out the true nature of a character like being one of the last human beings alive in a hostile world.

The problem with post-apocalyptic fiction is that you normally have to wade through a bunch of near future sci-fi bullshit to get to those amazing characters and stories.  Zombies, plague, nuclear war–apocalypses are just so tacky.

Cormac McCarthy does a classy job in The Road by never addressing or even hinting at what calamity decimated humanity.  But Samuel Snoek-Brown does him one better.

Hagridden by Samuel Snoek-BrownHagridden by Samuel Snoek-Brown, published by Columbus Press, is an absolutely phenomenal book.

Snoek-Brown (which is pronounced like Book-Town, if you’re curious), discovered and utilized an actual apocalypse from our nation’s history.  Unlike most post-apocalyptic stories, the technology will never be outdated, and the typical suspension of disbelief, as far as the world is concerned, has been eradicated.  He even works in werewolves, yet we never leave the real world.  It’s truly brilliant.

Hagridden is set in the final days of the Civil War, and primarily follows the lives of two women struggling to survive in the Louisiana bayou.  All of the men have been conscripted to the Confederate army and left the swamp a year or more ago, the economy has collapsed, and what land remains in tact has been ravaged by hurricanes.  These two women are deposited into a hostile landscape, alone and with no preparation, and we see their human nature overcome their proprieties.  We question their decision to murder and steal, but while we can’t justify it, we can’t condemn it either.

This book defies genre.  I’ve spent cumulative hours in conversation with early readers trying to categorize this book without success.  Officially we’ve called it Historical Fiction, but it really fits into so many categories–from literary fiction to action/adventure to romance to war–it’s all there.  There’s something for everyone, and there’s enough of whatever you’re after to carry you through.

Best of all, this book doesn’t take itself too seriously.  While the subject matter is terribly dark, grave even, and the timescape and landscape are authentic and accurate, Snoek-Brown isn’t afraid to use his imagination.  You won’t find a dry history lesson disguised in a fictional story.  Instead you’ll find real characters, gritty and alive, doing sometimes bizarre, yet believable, things, realistically woven into a credible time and place.

I might have published this book, but don’t let that tarnish this review.  In fact, it’s the greatest credit that I can give it.  I’m not a rich man, and believe me, I have enough activities demanding my day, but I liked this book so much that I invested my very limited time and resources into it.

I receive hundreds of submissions to Columbus Press every year. Eager writers, many of whom are very qualified.  Yet this is the book that sifted to the top, this is the book that stood out as something that could be truly exceptional.

You might not love this book as much as I do.  And you will complain about the lack of quotation marks.  But I haven’t found a reader yet that didn’t think this was a solid book and a great read.

You can pick the book up from Amazon here in hardcover, paperback or for your Kindle.  It’s also available from Barnes & Noble here.  Alternately, if you can find a bookstore, just ask for it and they’ll get you a copy.

You can also learn more about the book at www.HagriddenBook.com.