Negative Review: Chasing Wonder – Ginger Stache

Sometimes I know I have matured through the books that I pick up and enjoy. For instance, two years ago, I started reading a lot of memoirs, and though I would read them before—here and there—I would choose them very carefully and they were mostly from celebrities that I was familiar with. Now, I pretty much crave them, along with fiction novels. I have also started reading more adult fiction, which is a genre I typically stayed away from in favour of Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction.

Chasing Wonder: Small Steps Toward a Life of Big Adventures is not a book I would have held in my hands three years ago. Adventure, who needs adventure? I have a college degree to attend to, and a job on campus, and a hobby that steals my time (not that I mind). It’s easy for me to remember what my life was like three years ago, because nothing really happened, so remembering one specific day was like remembering the entire year.

So I am happy with myself for doing steps toward, yes, chasing wonder so to speak, and one of them includes reading this book. Now, although I think the world does need books like this one, I don’t think this one particular book was needed. That’s harsh, I know, I don’t typically tell readers that a book’s existence has little importance, especially not when I start my reviews in such a positive manner, but that is how I feel right now. Though the author has good intentions—she certainly wants us to enjoy life and face our fears and all that stuff—her execution can only be characterized as superficial.

This book actually reminded me a lot of Admiral William H. McRaven’s latest nonfiction The Hero Code, in the sense that the author discusses one theme and shows some examples to illustrate that. I found great meaning in Admiral McRaven’s publication, but in Stache’s I only found rushing. Though she does give examples from her own personal life that show us she’s overcome obstacles, those examples are typically super short and, sometimes, are simply enumerated, as though an afterthought. Not only that, but the way she speaks about fear-related topics is quite… and here I want to say immature but that’s a strange word to use for a book that means so well so I’ll default to superficial, once again. Predictable, too.

Here is a random quote that illustrates what I’m trying to say. It’s random because there are quite a lot of these. Warning: she uses a LOT of adjectives throughout the book.

I am certainly nothing special, but I remember always believing that God had something wonderful and very specific planned just for me. But here is what you may not know—He has all these things for you too. You weren’t born just to fade into the background. God loves you just as much. And he has amazing adventures for YOU. – page 13

Ugh. I mean thank you for saying those things, that’s very nice, but that’s not very convincing, and throughout the book I felt like there was more telling of obvious, everyone-knows-that things and little actual showing (again, because of the short examples that lacked depth). Overall, this is a self-help that lacks edge or grit or whatever gives something authority and prevents you from cringing. And my reaction is certainly not due to all the God talk. In fact, I adored Bamboozled by Jesus. That shit convinced me and there were lots of Bible references. It had spunk, something this book could have used a lot more of.

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review.

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