Friday, November 4, 2011

Book Review: The Encounter by Stephen Arterburn

Book Description: A wealthy businessman travels to Fairbanks, Alaska, to learn why his mother abandoned him when he was a child, and in the process learns that not everything is as it appears to be.
The Encounter, the unique new book from best-selling author and counselor Stephen Arterburn, is a moving parable involving Jonathan Rush, a wealthy and famous entrepreneur, who is tortured by bitterness toward his mother who abandoned him when he was four. He travels to Alaska to find her but instead meets an enigmatic old woman known only as Mercy. Mercy has the information he needs but is strangely reluctant to talk to him. Somehow Jonathan must find a way to persuade a frightened woman to unlock the secrets of his past.
The book includes an invitation to the readers to verify the facts of their own stories, to accept the reality of their existence, especially the most painful ones, and to live in forgiveness. The end result is a healthy new way to look at life with an ability to share hope with others for the future. Healing is possible but requires truth, acceptance, and forgiveness, including of oneself.
My Review: I think this book, The Encounter, had the potential to be an excellent platform to help its readers understand and deal with their own deep seeded wounds and issues, but I was disappointed with the way it so abruptly ended. It was far to quick and easy a healing for Jonathan who had, evidently, experienced a life-long battle with anger, resentment and  rejection based on the fact that his mother had abandoned him as a four year old child. However, the abrupt ending, after a very simplified  account of an episode where he exploded in anger and drove someone away, left me bewildered.  In my experience, healing of the kind dealt with in The Encounter, doesn't simply vanish the way they did in this book. There was too much left unsaid and too much not adequately dealt with.
Maybe if I had considered it to be a simple parable in a "short story" category, I would have viewed it differently. Or if I had considered the questions posed at the back of the book prior to or during my reading of the story, that might have helped, as well. Certainly without them, for me anyway, this would just be a very unsatisfactory read. I hope those who read The Encounter will start at the end and work their way through using the questions as their guide.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://booksneeze®.com/> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255