I just finished reading Anna Sophia & Elizabeth Botkin's book "It's (not that) Complicated", and I couldn't resist doing a book review! It was a huge eye opener as well as a good reminder in different areas... However, this is my first book review so bare with me as I travel this new field of giving a book review :)
So, the main theme in the book is how to relate to guys in a healthy, sane and biblical way. They approach this subject with humor and wit, while keeping the readers attention by going straight to Scripture for their answers to all those guy-girl relationship questions.
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The Botkin sisters are fantastic writers and keep things "down to earth". They realize and understand that most of us struggle with at least some, if not all, of the questions and circumstances that they talk about in the book....and they have worked through many of these struggles/questions themselves which makes their book so much more relatable knowing the authors have experienced what you may have experienced at some point in your life.
They start out the book talking about why guy-girl relationships are so complicated in today's world because of the influences that swirl around us every day in the music, movies, books, lifestyles and cultural norms that surround us every day. However, they aren't hesitant to point out that every century has had it's own set of problems to deal with and ours is no exception! They bring you right to the root of the problem by page 10.
"However, our circumstances aren't the only thing making life messy for us. The first question we need to sort out is the complicated-ness inside each of our hearts. The battle between the spirit and he flesh. The desire to surrender our will to God and the desire to be captain of our own ship. The question of whether to consider others, or ourselves, more important. The desire to do what is right and the desire to do what is wrong....We can't decide what our circumstances will be, but how we will respond to them is up to us."
A lot of the confusion that swirls around us when it comes to guy-girl relationships has to do with what is going on inside of us. Are we focused on our needs or others needs? What are the motives behind our actions and words? Do we treat everyone the same no matter their age, gender, looks, personality, etc.? They pointed out that we need to sit back (or perhaps lean forward in anticipation as we seek out God's desires) and find out how God wants us to interact with guys and with everyone else that we come in contact with.
One of the things that really stuck out to me started in chapter three and continued through the entire book. They talked about the basic truth that "boys are people too", I know, super basic, right? However, they gave two extreme examples of girls in our culture today that made me pause and ask myself, where is my focus when a guy walks into a room?
Here are the examples:
"There are two major ways that we tend to fail when it comes to relationships with young men.
1. Flirting. Right, right, none of us were actually flirting. We meant coquetting, teasing, joshing, bantering, being over-friendly, acting giddy and giggly, trying to attract attention, 'being cute,' clutching or shoving, or generally getting high on boys' company and acting frantic to be noticed.
2. Shunning. Being so shy and uncomfortable around boys that we pretend they don't exist; when forced to acknowledge their existence we're cold and rude. If we see them coming, we duck and cover behind human shields. We check our invisible watches multiple times as we pass them in the hallway while simultaneously pretending to tie our shoes. We avoid their glance as though it would steal our soul.
These two extremes may seem like opposites. In actuality, they both stem from the exact same root problem: a failure to think of these boys as brothers 'in all purity.' (Timothy 5:2)
In other words, it's because we're thinking of them only as romantic objects or marriage material. This causes some of us to chase after them, and it causes some of us to get really nervous. Either way, the failure to see these guys as brothers with all purity will keep us from getting it right."
I'm going to be upfront and honest here...(which is super hard for me, especially on this topic), I can be myself and desire to serve or serve with guys that are younger than me or guys that (this is going to sound horrible) I know I wouldn't marry for whatever reason...but if a guy walks into a room and he is attractive and close to my age...well, let's just say I typically look for the exit or at least go into a different room. Why? Because I didn't look at that guy as a brother in Christ, but as a "romantic object or marriage material" and I didn't want to look or say something stupid so I just ran away.
How is my response anything like the way God wants me to relate to young men? It isn't. This really hit home for me. I hated the fact that I acted that way, but I didn't realize how incredibly selfish it was until I read this book. I'm so focused on myself and what the guys will be thinking of me and how other people will view me and I lose my purpose...which is to love others more than myself. Guys are people too! That 24 year old handsome young man, could be looking for a smiling face in a see of unfamiliar people, but I won't approach him because I'm focusing on how he will see me instead of how focusing on how God wants me to act and how can I help others WHOEVER they may be!
The Botkin girls also interviewed 14 young men and their candid comments about the many different topics touched in the book, were extremely insightful into how guys think. I really appreciated reading what the Botkin girls had learned from experience and what the Scriptures had taught them, along side these comments from the young men and seeing how they coincided with each other.
This book can definitely be read by a wide age range of girls starting in their young teens and (since I'm 24) obviously people in their 20's. However, I would also suggest it for Moms & Dads as Anna Sophia and Elizabeth emphasize the importance of parental involvement in the lives of their children! Especially when it comes to relationships.
To finish the review, I would just like to add, that even if you don't think that you are struggling with your relationships with guys, this book would still be a great read. Many of the points made can be applied to other types of relationships such as siblings, friends, parents, strangers, you name it :)
Would I give this book 5 stars? Absolutely! It was well written, very applicable and the authors opened up their hearts to their readers making it clear they could empathize with what we might be going through ourselves!
Hope you enjoyed the review!
1. It's (not that) Complicated pg. 10
2. It's (not that) Complicated pg. 82