Thursday, June 22, 2017

Book Review: Between Heaven & the Real World, by Steven Curtis Chapman, with Ken Abraham

When you admire a songwriter, you get both excited and apprehensive when you see their name on a book cover. You want to hear what they have to say, but can their style successfully make the leap from 3 minutes to 300 pages?

In the hands of a master storyteller like Steven Curtis Chapman, the answer is a resounding "yes!"

I've long been a fan of Steven's writing, and this book was an absolute pleasure to read. I actually read it while we were on our recent East Coast Tour. I devoured pages in hotel rooms, on ferries, and even in the midst of a freak snowstorm on the May 24th long weekend. Reading about Steven's start in the music business and his approach to songwriting seemed all the more powerful in the midst of our own music making.

But I knew the real story was coming.

In 2008, Steven and Mary Beth Chapman faced a parent's worst nightmare when one of their children accidentally caused the death of one of their other children. We were living in Nashville when this happened, and the whole city reeled from the shock of the tragedy. It was like it happened to a family member. Steven's music had blessed so many of us, and in that season, we all mourned for this beautiful family.

I can't imagine the strength it took to put these particular chapters into print, both for Steven and for the whole family. He tells the story with raw emotion and absolute transparency. I wept through these pages, reliving my own experiences with grief, and marvelling at this story of grace and forgiveness.

There are so many who will enjoy and value this book. It's for fans of Steven Curtis Chapman's music. It's for those who love autobiographies, and for those with an interest in songwriting and the music business. It's a story about falling in love, and building that love into a family. But it's also a testimony about facing the unimaginable, wrestling with the pain, and finding God in the midst of it all.

Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. Viewpoints are all my own.