Review: Resurrection Year

Resurrection year“Books like this usually end with a miracle.” So said one of the potential publishers of Sheridan Voysey’s Resurrection Year. But not everybody’s story ends like that.

Resurrection Year is the story of Sheridan’s and his wife, Merryn’s, infertility and, importantly, their life after the death of their hopes of having a child.

While stories of God’s incredible miracles in giving babies to those for whom it was medically impossible are important and hugely faith-building, stories like this are equally vital.

Sometimes the breakthrough doesn’t happen; the baby isn’t born, the cancer isn’t cured, the marriage doesn’t materialise. What then? Is God only good when he’s granting us our hearts’ desires? What about when he is silent? How do you keep obeying, serving, worshipping, even praising him when he seems indifferent to your pleas?

There is not much detail in this book about how Sheridan and Merryn did that, simply the evidence that they did.

It is instead a book about the courage of a couple daring to dream again, of Sheridan daring to give up his flourishing career in order to let his wife pursue a new dream, of them both leaving behind all they had ever known and starting a new life on the other side of the world.

It’s a book about choosing to continue to trust God and walk with him even when the way ahead is not clear. It’s an honest book, and therefore a painful one in places, and in its honesty it doesn’t really give any answers, because there aren’t really any.

As Tolstoy noted in the opening line of Anna Karenina, “…each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Each person’s valley is unique. The troubles I go through will never be the same as yours, and so the answers we find, the quiet whispers and the newly opened doors we receive from God will never be the same either. But just as it builds faith to hear the miracle stories, it also builds faith – of the persevering kind, not the triumphalistic kind – to hear the stories of God’s faithfulness through the storms.

I read this book because I met Sheridan and Merryn at a friend’s Thanksgiving dinner party. I very much enjoyed their company and, learning that Sheridan was a writer, was eager to read some of his writing (I’d love to hear more about Merryn’s PhD thesis in due course, too, though she was only just beginning to study it, so that may take some time!). I chose this, of the half-dozen titles available, as I felt it was the best way of getting to know them both better.

I always find it hard to rate books when I know the authors. If I like them, I want to be generous, and I really liked Sheridan and Merryn. On the other hand, I want to be fair and honest about the actual book in question, which I fear can make me lean towards harshness (in trying not to show favouritism). And I hate giving half-stars, because that just makes it look as though I couldn’t make up my mind (which I can’t). Maybe I should have started out with a 10-star system to make this easier, but I didn’t.

I’m going to give this book 4.5 stars because I just can’t decide either way. The half-star it loses is because I really would have liked to know more about the wrestling with God and how their faith and their marriage survived when the death of their dreams could so easily have killed either. But maybe they need more distance from the events before they can see that clearly enough. Or maybe it’s just none of my business!

My note-to-self review as I finished reading was ‘A sad but beautiful story, beautifully written.’ And so it is.

7 Comments On This Topic
  1. Rach
    on Feb 23rd at 7:13 am

    Ohhh that book!

    The first half had me weeping with relief – I hadn’t read anything else which described my own feelings at the time with such honest and depth. Our story is different but similar enough that I found resonance and reassurance as they talked about the pain of reality not matching up to expectations, friends struggling to understand and the church offering less than satisfactory platitudes.

    But while reading the second half I threw the book across the room in frustration on more than one occasion. It’s like it turned from this honest, vulnerable memoir into [spoiler alert] “oh we couldn’t have a baby so we got a dog instead” – frustratingly simplistic and lacking the depth that the first half offered. I agree with you Jennie – I wanted to know more about the wrestling process too.

    Reply
    • Jennie Pollock
      on Feb 24th at 7:11 pm

      Thanks Rach, that’s helpful – I wasn’t sure whether it would be helpful to people in similar situations, it sounds like not!

      Reply
  2. Sheridan Voysey
    on Feb 24th at 8:47 am

    Thanks so much for this considered and thoughtful review, Jennie. A real gift. (And for your comment above, Rach. I haven’t had that kind of feedback before so it’s good to hear all views.)

    I chatted with Merryn about your feedback and neither of us could think of anything we didn’t include that happened on the wrestling front. Most chapters deal with our wrestle with God (the earlier ones over the infertility, the latter over my finding my place in the world again) and the how is always expressed in scenes rather than didactic explanations as that’s what we discovered readers who needed this message wanted (ie a story rather than a how-to book). But I’ll take 4.5 out of 5 stars any day, and will keep this feedback in mind as i work on a sort-of follow up right now.

    Thanks very much again.

    Reply
    • Jennie Pollock
      on Feb 24th at 7:08 pm

      Thanks Sheridan, I think that’s it, it was your story, not a ‘how to’ book. It’s great to hear the story of God’s faithfulness when a dream dies, but I suppose I don’t quite know who to recommend it to – especially after hearing Rach’s feedback!
      Would love to read the sequel though!

      Reply
  3. boucherpye
    on Feb 24th at 9:07 am

    Lovely review. Loved your honest assessment.

    Reply
    • Jennie Pollock
      on Feb 24th at 6:48 pm

      Thanks Amy.

      Reply
    • Jennie Pollock
      on Feb 24th at 7:12 pm

      Thanks Amy!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: