Review: How to Survive a Shipwreck by Jonathan Martin + Giveaway

If I had to choose between mountains and ocean, I’d choose the ocean for sitting, looking, and reflecting but the mountains for interacting. I regain my rhythm when I’m hiking and exploring and find nothing more awe-inspiring than looking at the valleys from the top of a peak.

_140_245_Book.1966.cover.jpgPerhaps it’s this preference that made the first half of Jonathan Martin’s How to Survive a Shipwreck hard to connect with. I just didn’t identify with the sailing imagery. Martin begins his story with an outline of his own loss – loss of a church, loss of a marriage. At first, I felt frustrated with the vagueness of these losses, but as the story unfolded, I realized I didn’t need specifics.

Martin finds himself adrift and shares his story of regaining footing – through community, a change of scenery, and a shift in thinking as he reread the Bible for tales of shipwreck and loss.

I wish I could separate my rating into two categories: 2 stars for Martin’s personal story and 4 stars for his commentary on Biblical stories. Like I said, it took about half the book for me to really connect with Martin’s story. Once I did, it was tough to put down. But, his writing – though poetic – is meandering and I felt like he could tighten his examples.

The parts that most resonated with me are when he walked through the stories from the Bible. His thoughts on Job and the Leviathan made me eager to reread that story. Martin reminds us that sea monsters aren’t something God should save us from but rather a reminder that,

God is at home in chaos – it’s the place from which he started the universe. (129)

Had Martin made that sentence his central thesis, I think the book may have appealed to a wider audience.

I think this book will resonate with people going through a loss that is not devastating. It’s an encouragement and gives hope in the journey. Martin’s story is the one you hope for during a difficult season – of hope, seeking, and ultimately successful redemption.

Are you more at home by the sea or in the mountains? Where do you go to recalibrate?

GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of How to Survive a Shipwreck. Leave a comment about how a time you experienced loss and I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, July 29, 2016. (United States addresses only.)

I review for BookLook Bloggers
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.


Published by

Annie Rim

Welcome! I live in Colorado with my family and have taught in the classroom, at an art museum, and now in the playroom. I reflect about life, faith, and books here on my blog.

4 thoughts on “Review: How to Survive a Shipwreck by Jonathan Martin + Giveaway”

  1. Ooh! I’d love to read this!! Our significant losses came in the form of 5 deaths during our son’s first year of life. Everyone says “the first year is hard”. For us the baby was the “easy” part. Sounds like this book could shed some light on seeing God in the midst of it.

    1. Oh wow. That would leave me reeling… Yes, I think this is the type of story that helps you reframe familiar Biblical tales of loss and redemption.

  2. As much as we enjoy the mountains, I think you know our familiarity is with the sea. Henry had a college buddy with a sailboat and he talks about the weekends they spent sailing. Me, I just feel refreshed near or on the ocean. I get what you mean in your review. I’ve read some that I’ve thought, quite beating around the bush and say it, but then, as you said, you didn’t really need to know the specifics. I’m not sure I could have stuck with it. Your review is very helpful. Thanks Annie.

    1. I think it’s funny how ingrained that love seems – my dad grew up on the coast and, even though they’ve been here 20+ years, still is most at home by the water… It’s funny how we want to know specifics but then don’t really need them. I’d imagine it’s a hard balance to strike when telling a story…. 😉

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