Book Review: Composing Amelia, by Alison Strobel

I can't remember now why I decided to download the sample of Composing Amelia. Probably a blog post describing it or something like that. But I read the sample on my Kindle and immediately bought the whole book, and read it over the course of a couple of days.

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The title character is a young newlywed with dreams of a successful career as a concert pianist. Her new husband has recently finished seminary and is seeking a position, hopefully on the staff of a large church somewhere in one of California's big cities, with dreams that together they'll serve the community and build a life together. When Amelia gets a gig playing in the pit orchestra for a new musical theater troupe, she's sure that it's a first step on the path to the career of her dreams. But then Marcus is unexpectedly offered a job as senior pastor of a small rural church . . . in Nebraska. As their dreams, and their understanding of God's plan, collide, Allison begins to wonder whether marriage, and her relatively new Christian faith, both were mistakes.

This novel explores a number of interesting themes: what marriage means; how our parents' example can influence us (for good or for ill) without our even realizing it, mental illness and how it's perceived in the church, and what it means to follow God. Although probably not the predominant theme in the book, it's this last theme that I found the most compelling. In a scene near the end of the novel, Marcus meets Ryan, a pastor at another church, and admits the struggles that he and Amelia are dealing with, including his own fear that he's chosen the wrong career for the wrong reasons. Ryan responds with words of wisdom that resonated with me: “Instead of asking God where else you should be, try asking Him what you should do now that you're here.”

Strobel addresses some serious, emotional themes in the context of a story that seems real and believable. She doesn't preach, but lets us watch Marcus and Amelia's struggles play out without oversimplifying or sugarcoating. She doesn't give the easy answers or the trite resolution. But at the end, there is hope.

I recommend this book for those who enjoy a good story that gives food for thought. It's available at

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