Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Book Review: Change of Heart by Jeanne Bishop/Biographies-Memoirs/NETGALLEY ARC/Published in 2015

Hello dear Readers,

Below, my book review of Change of Heart by Jeanne Bishop. 

Title: Change of Heart 
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Author: Jeanne Bishop 
Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (February 28, 2015)
Language: English
Hardcover: 208 pages

Book Description

Change of Heart begins with tragedy: the murder of Jeanne Bishop's sister Nancy, along with Nancy's husband and their unborn child, in their home some twenty-five years ago. In her dying moments, Nancy wrote a message in her own blood at the crime scene: a heart shape and the letter "u," last words of love.
When the killer, a local teenager, was arrested for the murders, he denied responsibility for the crime and showed no remorse. After the murderer was tried, convicted and sentenced, Bishop determined to forgive and then forget him. Bishop became a public defender, an outspoken opponent of capital punishment, and a supporter of the sentence her sister's killer received: juvenile life without the possibility of parole. All the while, she never once spoke the name of her sister's killer aloud, never tried to engage with him.
Then she met a law professor who gave her a book espousing a radical idea: that as Christians, we have an obligation to work to reconcile with those who have harmed us. Bishop challenged the book's author about that idea, and was challenged in turn to take seriously the prayer of Jesus on the cross and move beyond simple forgiveness to the hard work of personal reconciliation.
Change of Heart is the story of that uneven journey to confronting and reconciling with a murderer. The book takes on the larger issues of restorative justice, life sentences, and incarceration in the criminal justice system. It unflinchingly acknowledges the personal cost of advocating for mercy for people convicted of serious crimes.
In the end, the book is a story of moving beyond mere forgiveness to the deeper waters of redemption and grace.

My thoughts
*I gave 5/5 stars on Goodreads

While reading this book, I could not help but think how many times in life we ask ourselves the same questions over an over without having a clear answer, and one day, we read a book like this, and all of a sudden, everything makes sense. Sometimes we need another person's point of view or knowledge to help us understand things in life. We do not necessarily have to agree with them but another perspective can be helpful, at least to have options. 

Change of heart is a heartbreaking and sad story. Reading about other people's suffering is always hard. In this case, the author, Jeanne Bishop, tells the story of her sister, brother-in-law and soon to be born nephew, who were killed in their house by this young boy, the day before Palm Sunday in 1990. She also tells her journey on how after the murders, the trial and the sentence, she completely erases the killer from her memory and thinks she has forgiven him, and twenty something years later, she finally decides to meet with the killer and start this long process of confronting, forgiving, and reconciling with him.

Change of heart is also a powerful story. Makes you realize the great power of forgiving and praying. One that makes you see forgiveness and mercy in a whole different way. For most people, it could be impossible to forgive and pray for a killer, someone that deliberately takes the life of our love ones. How can that be possible? That is what I like the most about this book. Jeanne includes passages from the Bible and also all the knowledge she acquires through the years thanks to all these people she contacts to help her understand about forgiveness, about reconciliation, about death penalty and life in prison, about what is the best way to handle the situation she is going through. I like that thanks to this book, passages from the Bible that I read before and thought I understood, now I have a better understanding. Passages that not only apply to Jeanne's situation but also can apply to different situations we go through in life. I also like the interaction between Jeanne and the killer when they finally meet when she goes to visit him at prison. I cannot imagine how hard it was for her to be face to face with the person that changed her life forever but in that interaction you can clearly see how God was working on them. It was painful and sad yes, but at the end, it was also rewarding because Jeanne  gets some sort of closure when the killer finally tells her and admits the murders and she can see that remorse she did not see before, during the trial, and also for Jeanne, she understands what real forgiveness is all about and that no matter how bad was what the killer did but for God, there is no killer and victim, We all are the same on God's eyes and it is possible to change with His help. I like that thanks to her book, we can have a better understanding on all these topics.

Change of heart. If you like to read non-fiction, memoirs or just looking for a very interesting, powerful and eye-opener story, I highly recommend this book.

Thank you NetGalley and Westminster John Knox Press for sending the ARC copy, in exchange for an honest review.

My Favorite Quote

"He might choose to accept that forgiveness or to reject it. The bottom line here is not success; the bottom line is faith."


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