Book Review: Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace

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I’ve been jumping at any chance to connect more with Mary, so I was very excited when I got the opportunity to review Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace. I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

The book is described introduced as:

Do you want to be well? That’s what Jesus asked the sick man at Bethesda. Wouldn’t it seem obvious that he wanted healing since he’d lingered pool-side for decades? Why else would he have been there?

Do you want to be well? Believe it or not, our answer to that question is often no. We want to be vindicated, excused, hidden, and even at times patronized for the wounds we’ve suffered. Our complex relationships with parents can be especially difficult to resolve. Marge Fenelon uses her own experience with her mother to guide us to desire authentic healing.

Mary is the answer to our need for healing. She cares about the pain we bear because of the way we’ve been treated and hurt by our mothers. She cares not only about the fact that the pain is there, but also about how to help us heal from it.

Do you want to be well? Do you really want to be well? Are you ready to go through the work of effecting that healing? Picking up this book could be the important first step.

I will add the quick disclaimer that I completely missed the part about it being for healing specifically with a relationship with our earthly mother. Thanks be to God I am not the target audience of this book, but I still feel that I can provide my opinion on the book.

Overall, I thought this book was good. It was a vulnerable and personal reflection on Marge Steinhage Fenelon’s life and the ways Mary had been continually present. I thought she shared some beautiful insights, and though it was a difficult topic, she expressed it in a great way. The novena at the end was excellent. It provides a solid balance between Scripture, prayer, and personal reflection. I felt this final section of the book really tied the book together and even helped me see threads that I didn’t catch when I was reading the first nine chapters.

I do have a few criticisms of the book. I was disappointed that one of the chapters glossed over Mary. I understand that there is more discussion than just Mary when it comes to this topic, but I felt like she should’ve been central to every chapter in a book that has her namesake. I also felt like sometimes in an effort to connect with readers, it almost felt like she was telling readers how to feel rather than showing empathy. Ultimately, I just didn’t connect with the book, but that makes a lot of sense seeing as I am not the intended audience for it.

I was uncertain how to rate this book. On one hand, there is a lot of good. I think it is a very theologically sound book, and I think the writing was well-done and insightful. Though there were some things I didn’t enjoy about the book, I felt like most of my disinterest stemmed from the fact that I couldn’t relate to the material. Though I would rate this book lower for my own reading pleasure, I am happy to rate this higher as I do believe this would be a great resource for both men and women who have been hurt greatly by their earthly mother.

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