Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Call of a Coward: a Review and a Giveaway

"When this life doesn't make sense, it's good to remember you are just traveling through." - Marcia Moston

I first heard an excerpt from Marcia Moston's Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife in a writing group a year and a half ago.  Through a series of random events (isn't it always), I found myself sitting at a table in Barnes and Noble with a group of writers.  Marcia read aloud chapter 8 "What's a Woman to Do with All Her Time," and asked for feedback.  All I could do was underline beautiful, telling sentences and think about what a powerful book it would be. 

Thomas Nelson obviously agreed, and the moving account of a family's journey from New Jersey to Guatemala to Vermont has now been published.

Call of a Coward is beautifully written.  While there is no attempt to glamorize the third-world living conditions, Marcia has a trick of seeing and describing the beauty of even the most mundane.

"These strong, hardworking women emerged from their dirt-floor adobe houses dressed in their colorful village wraps and elegantly plaited headdresses - statuesque princesses in plastic flip-flops, seldom stumbling on the dirt paths or cobblestone streets although laden with babies on their backs, and baskets of tortillas or bundles of wood on their head." 

On initially seeing the village, Marcia writes, "In retrospect, Hernando was the best possible person to show me the village for the first time.  He loved the land, and it was through his love I saw past the unlovely."  In turn, Marcia shows us the village, and it is through her love that we too see past the unlovely. 
Marcia strikes the right balance with her honesty and humility.  Her conversational tone works well for the transparency and poignancy of her book.  It never pretends to be more than it is: a memoir of God's faithfulness in one woman's life.  But that, in and of itself, is a powerful story that resonates across time and cultures. 

In Chapter 10, Marcia recounts a local woman asking her to give up her only bag of carefully hoarded chocolate chips.  Although torn, Marcia hands them over for the sake of the bigger picture - eternity: our true reality.  To this day, I am reminded of that when I reach casually into my pantry for my chocolate stash.  It is difficult to pinpoint what I'm hoarding when I have so much, but I have many things in my life that are as precious and jealously guarded as Marcia's chocolate chips. 

Perhaps the strongest element of the book is the lack of sentimentality.  Oscar Wilde wrote "A sentimentalist is one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it."  The book is powerfully emotional, but there is payment for the luxury - it is seen in the gut-wrenching accounts of self-doubt, the stark self-evaluation, and the daily sacrifice of even the most basic comforts taken for granted by the United States middle class. 

I would happily share all my chocolate chips and a copy of the book with each of you.  But for now, I will be giving away one copy. For a chance to win Marcia Moston's Call of a Coward, just leave a comment below.  A simple "hello" will suffice or share the title of a non-fiction book that impressed you.  A winner will be drawn at random and announced August 8, 2012.* 

You can read more from Marcia at her blog: On a Write Journey Following God.

For my upstate readers, Marcia will be signing copies of her book at the book launch August 4, 1:00 at Fiction Addiction behind the Haywood Mall.  More information can be found on the Fiction Addiction website.

*Entries available only for readers with a US or Canada mailing address.

Permission link: All excerpts from Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle Class House-Wife. Thomas Nelson ©2012. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc. www.thomasnelson.com.


  1. You've whetted my appetite; I'd love to read this book!

  2. Congrats on the new domain. =) Thanks for recommending the book!

  3. Wonderful review of the book, Liz. You've already shared a copy of this book with me, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Very convicting, too! So I'll sign up to win a free copy to share with someone else (as long as there are no rules about family members being ineligible). :) I have the perfect someone in mind.

  4. Sounds like an interesting read. Great review!

  5. I reread "Wild Swans" by Jung Chang, because I need a stark every-few-year jolt to my consciousness just how depraved and hopeless humanity kept in darkness and far from God will be. It will always be one of my favorite reads, despite the darkness. Would love to read your recommendation based on your review here=)

  6. I especially am interested in the portion of "eternity" mentioned in the excerpts. What could possibily more important that eternity? Jesus Christ is the only way, truth, and life for eternity and anyone who believes on Him will be saved.

  7. Love those random-seeming, God-ordained events. Thanks for sharing this!

  8. This book sounds like an intersting one! Great use of my time :)

  9. Sounds like a great story! I just finished Radical by David Platt. It was inspiring to say the least.

  10. I read "Evidence Not Seen" quite a few years ago by Darlene Deibler Rose. I was encouraged by the power of prayer in her life!

  11. rcobb@bju.edu--I just pulled out my copy of Evidence not seen for a reread.Such a powerful testimony. Elizabeth everything you write is beautiful. Thank you.

  12. Evidence not Seen is a must read each year for me! I also loved Unbroken that came out recently. Have you read it?

  13. I, too, love Evidence Not Seen. I just gave a copy of it to a friend this week. Another book I reread every few years is By Searching by Isobel Kuhn. She shares so openly about how the Lord worked in bringing her to Himself and convicting her of things in her life that were a hindrance to others.


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