The Prayer by Jacqueline von Zwehl is an inspirational “nonfiction literary narrative”. I found the message of this book – “Your destiny is to live a life filled with miracles, shared with your soul mate, and filled with the joy of eternal love each and every day” – to be very good. However, the writing left much to be desired. There were no substantive grammatical errors. My biggest problem with the writing was the author’s tone and frequency to use exaggeration. For instance, many things were “devastating”, “crushing”. I found the overuse of this method to take away much of the book’s believability.
My other problem with this book is that I had a hard time identifying with the character. She writes a lot of about her overwhelming fear, fear of “losing it all”, fear after the 9/11 attacks, etc. Because of this, I could not relate to her and found it irritating.
Additionally, she uses a friend’s child sexual abuse as the catalyst of her anger which finally breaks her faith. This part made me very angry at the author simply because I felt that her description of her emotional reaction to her friend’s story seemed fake.
Lastly, one minor irritation is when the author would talk about a situation but not extrapolate on it until much later in the chapter. For example, “the screaming would wake me up” is not explained until many paragraphs later and you learn that it is her parents’ screaming that wakes her up and then you learn that the screaming is because of the father’s gambling. Of course, this chapter follows an earlier chapter where she talks about how great her dad was, how he was such a hard worker and how everyone loved him. To me, it seems like she couldn’t decide how she felt about her father and until this issue was better resolved, it would have been best to omit it from the book.
With respect to the cover, I felt it was very beautiful and simple which perfectly matches the message of this book.
There are some beautifully worded sections of The Prayer and I wouldn’t completely discourage readers from it. As long as they knew going in that there are some issues. As I said before, the message is very good but I would caution readers who have a more realistic view to read at your own risk.
Disclosure: I was provided a free book from Bookplex. This review contains my unbiased opinion of the book.