Review: Surprised by Oxford

Surprised by Oxford
Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Listen, if you want to find a five star review of this book, it won’t be hard to find. But I simply can’t overlook the fact that the recalled conversations from 14 years ago (or more) simply don’t ring true to me. I can’t believe the memoirist can recall the setting, casual gestures, and complete conversations from her past in the detail she portrays here, which makes me believe that these conversations are largely fabricated. This explains why all her friends seem so deeply insightful and all the observations seem so symbolic. I don’t doubt Weber’s story at its core, I simply found myself cringing through almost every retold conversation. (I found myself constantly asking: Really!? You remember when he shrugged? Or when she looked away?)

Furthermore, Weber’s “conversion” experience really comes off as more of an intellectual exercise than a humbling recognition of sin in light of the greatness of God. I couldn’t really recommend this book to a person seeking to know more about Christianity, because the journey she takes to get there relies on her own idiosyncratic doubts and questions, few of which I could relate to. I couldn’t really recommend it to anyone without an English degree because her casual references to poets and authors are frequent and often unexplained. I consider myself to have a slightly greater-than-average understanding of allusions to authors, but I was often not sure what point she was trying to make with her references. And why all the U2 references? I think she quote U2 more frequently than she quotes scripture.

I simply didn’t find much in her 440 page story that I could relate to, cheer for, believe, or recommend to others. For me, the whole story seemed dishonest and therefore I can’t really recommend it. But, looking through the reviews, it seems I am in the minority.

View all my reviews

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