strangers at my door: An Experiment in Radical Hospitality

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Crown/Convergent, $14.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-307-73195-1
Wilson-Hartgrove (The New Monasticism) tells a story that deserves to be loved. He and his wife Leah founded Rutba House in Durham, N.C., a Christian community that over the years has opened its arms to the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, the needy, and those paroled from prison. From such experience and relationships, Wilson-Hartgrove has learned to view the world through the eyes of the downtrodden. Yet though his heart is in the right place, sometimes his writing falls short. Is it the occasional cliché ("smiling from ear to ear"), clumsy diction ("swinging words like I wanted to swing my fist") or a certain sameness to the people he describes despite their different stories? The heartfelt message-–that the disadvantaged help Wilson-Hartgrove more than he helps them—becomes at times repetitive. Towards the end, however, Wilson-Hartgrove writes compellingly of a white woman who wants a neighborhood watch in a place where relations with the police are fractured. Here his anger proves that he can write powerfully and well. Agent: Greg Daniel, Daniel Literary Group. (Nov. 5)
Reviewed on: 09/23/2013
Release date: 11/05/2013
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