Trish Ryan shared the ups and downs (and all the pitfalls in between) of navigating men, romance and faith in her first book, HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT. In her follow-up, A MAZE OF GRACE, she offers her readers the next installment of her “inside” life that starts where her debut left off --- at her wedding. Ryan is a winsome, sassy storyteller, telling life (and relationships) like it is, not the way some Christians untruthfully portray it to be. This courageous stance alone is utterly refreshing and will bring collective sighs of both relief and comfort from her audience.
Throughout this 19-chapter text, Ryan tackles various common life themes that necessarily transfer beyond the female arenas and whose theological tendrils will spark some reaction in the male gender as well. Lots of her focus points will make for excellent conversation starters for singles and couples alike (both within and outside the church wall setting). Readers will be treated to her unique viewpoints on such topics as what it means in today’s modern world to be a “wife”; how essential it is for everyone to be “needed”; the sex cure-all for married folk; dealing with the “little foxes” who slowly destroy intimacy; planting small (but mighty) seeds of compassion, love and care wherever you traverse; reconciling what we ask for in prayer with what God gives us; seeing goodness all around via God’s gentle reminders; being covered by the protective love of a spouse; the impact of honest storytelling; understanding the real meaning of rescue; and four words that are lifelong truisms to embrace no matter what.
Readers will discover much to chew on from a purely philosophical sense in every story Ryan shares. However, she isn’t content to simply offer serious learners mere snapshots of life and love and loss and lessons that do little more than suggest settling for just existence. Rather, she delves deep into every subject, heart and soul, passionately giving of both herself and her pain to nudge others along life’s byways. In hearty ways, she eases readers into her world with a skillful use of comedic errors she has experienced, none of which were so very funny while she was going through them.
A (now) particularly funny season of body angst Ryan endured occurred right after she married and suddenly began packing on the pounds. She recalls the mystery of gaining so much weight and finally relates it to her years of internal stress when she was on guard, unable to relax or be easy in relationships. Ryan’s distress is further complicated by the comments of others who pull her aside and insist they “know” the secret to her weight gain: she’s pregnant (but not telling). Wrong. This misdemeanor assumption brings further internal pain when Ryan does indeed try to get pregnant, but can’t. Somehow, her rendering of the entire weight on/weight off debacle works marvelously, and readers (especially females) will get it (and, better yet, be helped by it).
A MAZE OF GRACE bridges the gaps between faith and works, and makes the message “work” on every page. Truly, it is a maze of grace.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on November 13, 2011