Book Review: I Know What Heaven Looks Like


I Know What Heaven Looks Like: A Modern Day Coming of Age Story
Lawrence Tanner Richardson.

“Why would God make you something that would make your family hate you? Why would God want me to hate my own blood? …God made you this way. God didn’t tell me to hate you, my church did. Please forgive me.” (p152)

These words by the author’s grandmother summarize the journey of self-examination and repentance that many allies wander, particularly those of us who are cisgender and hetero. But this is not a story about allies. This about Lawrence’s story. There are many moments of self-realization that change his living situation from ease to peril, his relationships from solid to disintegrating, and his faith from questioning to rejuvenating. And, sadly, his family members made his journey unnecessarily harder. (A theme that is all too familiar…)

One thing is certain: Lawrence Richardson is a strong man. Strong in his identity. Strong in his faith. Strong in his desire to share his story of empowerment and discovery.

I was in awe as I read, learning of his survival of many challenges: abuse, poverty, homelessness, rejection, and recovery. Lawrence was betrayed and abused by the adults who should have protected and nurtured him (his parents and their partners). There were heartbreaking moments in dating relationships. There was prejudice and constant battles as he pursued and completed his education. Lawrence kept searching, kept seeking, kept wondering. When he finally came to understand he was a transgender man, everything clicked into place.

In addition to transitioning, Lawrence struggled with the questions of Calling to the ministry. After the death of a close family member, Lawrence was beset with doubts, asking himself, “is any of this worth it?” In the quiet, and yes, the in his moments of doubt, God’s voice was clear and Lawrence continued to pursue and believe God’s direction.

This book is self-published, and cries out for a publisher and (at times) an editor. As a wannabe writer, I recognize the flaws in my own writing, and would wish for Lawrence’s book to be fine-tuned and republished. It needs a wider audience. Richardson’s message is that good.

The book is available from the author  and from Amazon.

I Know What Heaven Looks Like: A Modern Day Coming of Age Story, by Lawrence Tanner Richardson. 2018. Self-published. Paperback, 294 pages. ISBN 9-781981-512881

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided this book without cost from the publisher and was not required to give a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Big Read – part 2

The last time I posted about a reading challenge, I was corrected on the existence of the “real” one called “The Big Read” by a blog commenter. The list I posted was a mish-mash of two challenges. Whatever.

ANYWAY… You can read about the real “Big Read” HERE! Whoopin’ Divinity School is a participant and all of us Whoopers are encouraged to squeeze in a non-Divinity book… I am going to try and read a few of them that I either hated the first time, or would like to try as a new one this time… Besides, I have a week coming up at the beach and I need something to read!

Here’s the list…
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My Antonia by Willa Cather
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
The Shawl by Cynthina Ozick
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Yours for better beach reading…

…who is already at the beach in her mind…


The Harpist’s Summer Reading

Here’s the “required summer reading” for The Harpist this summer. Before you marvel at what she has before her, let me just explain at it is an AP (Advanced Placement) Literature class. And that she has a week of linguistics, a week of PreCalc review, a mission trip to Mexico for 10 days, and family vacation on her plate. We are wondering how she is going to fit all of these books into her summer.

(and yes… she is upside down with a snake on her head.)

This is the assignment, quoted from the school’s English home page:

2008 Summer Reading List — A.P. Literature 12

Because a second reading so much enriches the reader’s understanding, the AP literature teachers would like for you to read all of the following texts from their 2007-08 syllabi preparatory to an in-depth examination during the fall and spring semesters. If, however, you cannot get to all of the texts, make sure that you read a minimum of three of those asterisked as your first writing assignment for the course will be a general essay in which you will use plot and characterization details from one of them.
Emma – Jane Austen *
Beowulf – Seamus Heaney translation (preferably the dual-language edition)*
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen*
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte*
The Stranger – Albert Camus *
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad*
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky* (Sidney Monas translation)
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston *
Beloved – Toni Morrison*
Hamlet – Shakespeare*
Othello – Shakespeare
King Lear – Shakespeare
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead – Tom Stoppard

Fortunately she has already read Pride and Prejudice. And Hamlet. The rest will take some focused effort on her part to fit in… A little light reading, eh? Dostoyevsky? Ugh.

Who wants her Calvin and Hobbes… (comic books, not theology!)