Book Review | Unplanned by Abby Johnson

It’s been quite a while since I posted a book review! I started a new job in December of last year and I’ve been too busy to post, but I’m back! I hope to read a book a week until the end of the year. This is very doable if I cut back on TV time! I have 3 hardback books and 4 e-books on my Kindle waiting for me to read them. But, Unplanned by Abby Johnson is a book that I read back in December.

Little did I know in December of 2011 that the topics of healthcare and abortion would come together and cause turmoil throughout the ranks of the Komen Foundation and other high-ranking organizations. Unplanned is a book that tells a riveting behind-the-scenes story of a conservative working at Planned Parenthood. Abby Johnson started out as a young volunteer and rose to rank of executive, leading a Planned Parenthood location in Texas. Her unusual participation in an abortion procedure forces her to face her internal conflicts. As a devout Christian, her job (working in a clinic that provided abortions among and other healthcare services) conflicted with her moral beliefs.

Many young women can relate to Abby’s conflict whether they have performed similar work or not.Like Abby’s real-life character in this book, I have been conflicted about my moral beliefs versus my support and patronage of Planned Parenthood. This book presents both sides.

What I enjoyed most was Abby’s candid discussion about not only her experience working at Planned Parenthood, but also her own past. She reveals some ugly truths about abortion clinics and also discusses the value of the other healthcare services provided by Planned Parenthood. In addition, she shares her own story of not one, but two, unplanned pregnancies and why she  made the choices that she did.

Lastly, Abby talks about why and how she changed her mind about working for Planned Parenthood. If I have a criticism of this book, it would be the slightly dramatized chapters in the book following Abby’s choice to walk away. Although it was a heart-wrenching decision, people quit their jobs every day. It is also fascinating that she ran away from one extreme to the other, seemingly without considering a middle ground. She went from being a staunch supporter and worker at Planned Parenthood to being strongly anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood. I would have liked to see some talk about a middle-ground, an area of compromise where we can support the rights of women and the unborn at the same time…is that possible? I’m not sure, but when I put this book down, I felt inspired…of course, my beliefs align pretty strongly with Abby’s. Abby introduces readers to pro-life organizations that are less divisive. She could have simply walked away from Planned Parenthood and found another job, but instead, she chose to share her story and to use her experience as a platform to help change the lives of others.

For those looking to better understand the perspective of individuals, particularly, Christians, who work at Planned Parenthood, this would be an interesting book to read. Be fair-warned that this book is not pro-Choice. The author advocates an end to abortion because of her religious beliefs and because of the detrimental effect that abortion has on women and families. But, the way she wrote this book provides a fair perspective of both sides because, unlike many people, she has “fought the war,” from both sides. If you’ve read this book, let me know what you think! If you wouldn’t read it, let me know why not!

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Book Review | 31 Dates in 31 Days by Tamara Duricka Johnson

31 Dates in 31 Daysis a new book by author Tamara Duricka Johnson that looks at dating from a whole new angle. Unlike the typical how-to dating book, Johnson’s insights are based on her own first-hand accounts from a radical dating experiment in which she embarked on 31 dates in, yes, 31 days!The title alone made me feel exhausted! Dating takes a lot of time, effort, and planning. It generally also requires cute outfits, hair appointments, and other special gestures meant to impress one’s date. I was curious to read on and find out how and why Johnson would embark on such a feat. As it turns out, she was approaching her milestone 31st birthday. Like many single women (and men), she was tired of the dating games and the ups and downs. She wanted to get something more meaningful from the dating experience.

The 31 day project was just the thing to kick-start her personal dating revolution. By setting up dating “rules,” Johnson was able to streamline the dating process, control costs, and focus on learning as much as possible about the men she was dating, and about herself, along the way.

Thankfully,  Johnson decided to share her experiences with the rest of us. Her writing style was funny, yet sincere as she described each new encounter. Some were downright delightful; others were downright forgettable. But, they were all meaningful. In each chapter, we learn more about the men and we learn more about the author. Most importantly, we follow along with the author’s journey and use her dating lessons to reflect on our own experiences.

Are we entering the dating process withe pre-conceived notions that are acting as roadblocks along the path to love? Are we missing out on dates with amazing people due to our “wish lists” and “checklists?” Are some of us looking for love so desperately that we continue to fall for mates that are not actually worthy of our affections? Do we know how to simply enjoy dating without placing a bunch of expectations on ourselves and others?

31 Dates in 31 Days is a good read for both men and women. Although the book seems to lean towards the female perspective, men can learn a lot from reading about the many dates through the eyes of a woman. I was impressed not only by the author’s eloquent writing style, but also by her dedication to writing about each date. I thought that she would surely skip the less interesting dates, but, no, even in those dates there was a lesson to be learned and she made those dates fun to read about as well.

Interestingly, the author became keen on a number of the men that she dated rather quickly! This, too, was inspirational for aspiring daters. Where it may seem like there are no prospects, there can suddenly be plenty! Most of us can take some cues from the project. Instead of doing the same old thing, we can try something new and see where it might take us.

You’re probably curious to know whether or not the project led to love. I won’t spoil it for you, but you can certainly find more information on 31datesin31days.com! I will say that I was truly inspired; shortly after finishing this book, I found myself looking at the men around me in a whole new light. I would definitely recommend this book to all aspiring daters and to all of those who simply want to be inspired to try something different. After you check out the book, let me know what you think!