Books by Jen Hatmaker are unabashedly feminine. ‘Of Mess and Moxie’, her latest work is no exception: it is clearly meant for girls of all ages.
It is much easier to tell what ‘Of Mess and Moxie’ is not rather than what it is. It is not dull, unimaginative, wordy and obscure. It is also not pompous, bitter and trivial. It is not insincere.
Draw yourself a picture. It is evening, and you are sitting on the porch of the house somewhere in Austin, Texas. You are having a glass of wine (or a bottle of pop if you’re still honoring the memory of Prohibition) with one Jen Hatmaker. You recline on the lounge chair and listen to the story of her life. Some parts of this story are hilarious, some are sad. She makes you laugh, cry, think and remember. You can’t help exclaiming: ‘Hey, Jen, exactly the same thing happened to me when I was…’ You keep repeating ‘Oh dear!’ and ‘What a shame!’ Sometimes you think that you simply can’t laugh any longer only to find yourself in hysterics again and again. In the end, you realize that from now on Jen Hatmaker is your best friend, and the story of her life inspires you to live your life to the full.
‘Of Mess and Moxie’ sends numerous messages. Some of them are down-to-earth and pragmatic like ‘It is not easy to make dinner for kids who will hate it, but you can really turn your miserable experience into an extremely funny story’. Some are inspiring and upbeat like ‘You don’t have to be who you first were’. The author is a champion of the poor, so the last chapter of the book is devoted to retelling the story of Joseph and his suffering. The most important of all Jen’s messages is ‘Life is a messy thing, and what you need most is plenty of moxie’.
As always, Jen does not forget to sprinkle her book with numerous recipes. (What about making Fried Chicken Sliders with Honey Dijonnaise or Jen’s Grocery Store Day Super Sandwich?) There are also quite a few how-to lists that many of us will find extremely useful (the winner is ‘How To Get Your Husband To Fix That Thing He’s Been Saying For Three Months That He’d Fix’ and ‘How To Find A Family Pet’ is a close runner-up). What Jen Hatmaker really wants is to help women grow and make friends, and she most definitely accomplishes all she set out to do.
Jen is not ashamed of such things as using swear words, so those who are prudish might feel uncomfortable reading some pages of ‘Of Mess and Moxie’. She also advocates for women preaching: there are still some old-school Christians who find this idea unacceptable. What’s more, she emphasizes the importance of love and grace and does not insist on repentance and sanctification: she is a Christian writer who writes for everyone, not just fervent Christians.
The audio version of the book is read by the author and contains numerous snippets that are not in the printed version of ‘Of Mess and Moxie’, so you might want to buy both the traditional book and the CD. A great read!