A while back, Cindi Rose from the San Fransisco Christian Fiction Examiner posted this great review of Every Bush Is Burning, and I liked it so much I asked for her permission to re-post some of the review here. I really appreciate Cindi taking the time to review the book, and the more traffic and shares she gets the better for her, so if you like the review please click the link to the actual review and share it through Facebook, Twitter, or StumbleUpon.
Every Bush Is Burning by Brandon Clements is one of those books you start reading and think to yourself, “I really don’t like this guy,” (the main character) but you keep reading because you somehow understand exactly what he’s talking about. And what Jack Bennett is talking about is his life; his work, his failing marriage, and his disgust with ‘Christianity.’
Jack is a thirty-something reporter who writes op-ed pieces. He has the perfect life; house in the suburbs, beautiful and adoring wife, twin boys who are two years old… and a mistress. But after he writes an article on how most of America’s Christians go to church on Sunday and look down their noses at the less-fortunate the rest of the week, his entire world changes.
He meets a homeless man named Yeshua, who tells him to confess his affair to his wife and do whatever it takes to win her back. As Jack and Yeshua spend time together, Jack becomes more and more convinced that this man really is the Jesus of the Bible.
Jack shares the stories of his childhood; an absent father, a loving and hard-working mother, and the responisibility he feels about the sexual abuse his younger sister endured at the hands of an uncle. The reader begins to believe that this is some supernatural relationship, just like Jack does. It’s not until the very end that the reader discovers why Jack is sharing his story with a complete stranger and realizes what the relationship between Yeshua and Jack truly is.
This is an enjoyable story, even though what the author is saying about the 21st-century American church is often painful to read. But it’s painful in the way removing an infected sliver from a finger is painful. It must be done if the infection is to be stopped so the finger can heal. Although some may have trouble with a Jesus who drinks beer and listens to Nine-Inch Nails (this reader wasn’t particularly pleased with it), being able to move past these minor details is essential, especially in light of how the story concludes. A look at the bigger picture is needed.
Each individual reader may recognize themselves in different passages of Every Bush Is Burning, but in order to make a real differnce in the lives of those we interact with every day, we need to do more than recognize our failings. We must admit them and be willing to do the hard work that comes with being a Christian in a fallen world.
This is Brandon Clements’ debut novel, but hopefully it won’t be his last.
(Funny clarification: Yeshua didn’t actually listen to Nine Inch Nails in the book. I got a good laugh out of that.)
Thanks to Cindi for the encouragement and for posting this great review!