This month’s TBR pile featured something I’ve never seen before. Two books by authors from the same family—The Barratt Sisters. Is it just me, or does that sound like a 1940s singing act? I expect to see them in victory rolls, chunky-heeled t-straps, and sensible suits. Red lipstick, if you please.
Oh, and can they sing “As Time Goes By?” Just in case not, I’ll stick one of my favorite renditions below. Gotta love good ol’ Jimmy Durante. The guy really can’t even sing, but you love to hear him anyway.
But while Amanda Barratt wrote about the resistance group in Hitler’s Youth, her younger sister wrote a nonfiction call to the sold-out life for Christ.
And I think every American old enough to read and comprehend half of it should read this book. Say age eight to a hundred eight. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
You know, Sara Barnett reminds me so much my #3daughter. That relentless passion for Jesus, the questioning of everything and holding it all up to the lens of Scripture. The why that came with not understanding how we could just accept status quo in the church. How we could just take what someone said at face value instead of comparing it to the Word of God and seeing if one person’s teaching aligned with the ONLY Person’s teaching that mattered.
I wrote a blog post about fifteen or so years ago.
Shocker, right? I need to post it over here. Bug me about that, will you? Anyway, in that post, I outed a phenomenon among young people—that tendency toward what I call being a “thunderpuppy.” You know, the all-knowing young person who is passionate about truth without care or concern for the people trampled under the weight of how that person wields said truth. For reference, thunderpuppies tend to be young people who are considered wise beyond their years and full of zeal. “On fire for the Lord.” They’re the ones other parents point to and say, “You should be more like…” Talk about a kick in the teeth to those other kids and a really good way to puff up the puppies.
A whole lot of adults applauded that post. I got tons of emails shouting support. Or, maybe it was just because I admitted to having been the “chief of the thunderpuppies” and was still battling the tendency. Maybe they thought there was hope for me…
Anyway, I got discouraged by that rally cry from adults. Because, you see, there’s a lot of good in what is behind “thunderpuppyitis.” Remember how Paul said, “Let no man despise your youth”? Yeah. So, I wrote a rebuttal to my own post—a balancing act, so to speak. (Need to move that one over here, too). Here’s the point of all this.
That book by Sara Barrett that I read (and reread last night)?
The one I have filled with notes and highlights on every page? Love Riot? Yeah. Well, Sara is that balance. She has the zeal, fire, and wisdom of a thunderpuppy, but she also has the gentleness and humility we all need in the face of the hard truths she is so beautifully passionate about. She’s everything in her presentation that I never was.
I learned a lot while reading Love Riot. And I’ll be reading it again. As of right now, I’m trying to figure out how to convince the publisher to give me a discount on a case of them. I want to hand out several to every youth group in town. It’s simple. If the kid will read it, I will give it.
Note: links may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Additionally, while I have already purchased three of copies of the book, I was provided with a review copy from the publisher and chose to share my very biased (but not because of the extra copy given) opinion. 😉
What Is a Love Riot & Why Would You Want One?
With the United States still reeling from devastating riots, this is not a frivolous question. Neither does author Sara Barrett give a frivolous answer. In fact, she couldn’t have known that her book would release in the midst of such chaos.
And yet, this book offers the very answers to the problems that rioters and opponents to those riots alike are protesting.
That’s it, pure and simple.
On the other hand, there’s nothing simple about the all-encompassing, life-changing, world-transforming love of Jesus. And yet, that’s exactly Miss Barratt’s point.
While written directly (and literally) to teens, I am of the opinion that there isn’t a Christian out there who could not benefit from the very real kick in the butler that this book is.
I’ll be honest. I half-expected several good nuggets and a lot of self-righteous “dos and don’ts.” Or, just as bad, a series of platitudes and buzzwords without any strength behind them.
She gives us none of that nonsense.
Instead, with refreshing honesty and humility, Sara Barratt lays out a vision for what she calls a “love riot.”
People sold out to Jesus—crying out to Him for the ability to love Him as He deserves.
Christians praying with effectual fervency even when they have no words.
Christ-followers doing just that. Picking up their crosses and following.
Could anything be more beautiful?
She begins by showing us the problem—apathy in the church at large and how it is driving our young people away from Christ. After that, she shows us the underlying problem of that—a lack of love for Jesus. Then, she gives us tools… not teens tools, but every Christian who has the humility to allow (forgive me the analogy, Miss Barratt…) “a little child [to] lead them.”
If you flip through my copy of Love Riot, you’ll see every page highlighted—sometimes half a dozen on a page. Several times, I wrote notes in margins. To be honest, a tiny part of me felt guilty. I mean, that’s what I do with my Bible. And yet should this surprise me?
After all, Sara Barratt is just pointing us to Scripture. Almost every single assertion she makes is backed by Scripture, used in context, and supported by examples of other Christians who have lived their faith in similar ways.
Seriously, most the very few, tiny places that I half-disagreed, aren’t worth noting.
I’ll only throw out one as an example to show you what I mean. She makes a strong argument for beginning your day in Bible reading and prayer. Not as a “checklist” but because she advocates cultivating a life that feeds on those things. My only itty-bitty caveat is that when she argues for “even if you’re not at your best,” she ignores that for some of us, we are absolutely never at our best first thing in our “morning” (mine is at 2 p.m. and I’m not really coherent and able to really dig deep into something before 9 p.m. It’s how my brain works). Still, the principle is there, even if she holds a little firm to her method. And I don’t fault her for that.
Frankly, the very vast majority of people do best doing exactly what she advocates. I just know the guilt and shame a lot of “not morning people” feel because they can’t possibly concentrate on anything right when they wake up. Ever.
The writing style is intelligent but casual. Never do I, as an adult feel talked down to. Also, I cannot imagine a teen feeling anything but comfortable reading the book. Except that it will make you anything but comfortable—where it counts.
In fact, if Christians could only read one book in the next three years (outside the Bible, of course—gotta throw out the caveats in case the obvious isn’t obvious), I’d say Love Riot should be that book. It’s that good.
It’s that important.
Love Riot is on tour with Celebrate Lit
About the Book
Book: Love Riot
Author: Sara Barratt
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Have you ever thought about walking away from the church? Have you already left it in your heart? Does it seem like it’s not relevant to your life?
It’s time for a revolution. A holy uprising. A love riot.
Not content with safe religion that demands nothing of us, Sara Barratt is calling you to stop giving in to the status quo and devote yourself fully to Christ, following Him no matter what your friends do or the culture around you promotes. Sara challenges you to hand everything over–your comfort zones, your time, your loyalty, your pride–and invites you to embark on a radical journey of passionate love for Christ. Because once you experience His love, it will transform your life.
Love Riot is a battle cry from one teen to another to embrace a life of wholehearted commitment and relentless abandon for Christ… no matter the cost.
“Sara Barratt wants to start a riot. An uproar. A disturbance for Jesus. Unlike some teenagers who want to disrupt and destroy, she wants to bravely build.”–Kyle Idleman, author of Not a Fan and Don’t Give Up and senior pastor of Southeast Christian Church
“God is at work among my generation. There’s no denying that, especially after reading Love Riot. This book will challenge you, encourage you, and ignite your pursuit of Christ. I highly recommend it!”–Jaquelle Crowe Ferris, author of This Changes Everything
“Love Riot will challenge your idea of what it means to be a teen who truly follows Christ. Sara Barratt raises the bar and calls her peers to a higher standard. This book has the power to change lives!”–Kristen Clark and Bethany Beal, authors of Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart and cofounders of GirlDefined Ministries.
About the Author
Sara Barratt is an author, speaker, avid reader, chocolate lover, and lead editor for TheRebelution.com. Her passion is challenging and encouraging teens to live sold out and set apart for Jesus. Come hang out with her on Facebook, Instagram, and at her website, sarabarratt.com.
More from Sara
Why are teens leaving the church?
Why are my friends drifting away from God?
What does it look like to be a teen who wholeheartedly follows Jesus?
In my early teens, I began wrestling with these questions. God was working on my own heart, shaking me out of my complacency, and leading me to a deeper walk with Him. Yet I knew I wasn’t the only teen battling apathy and the low expectations of our culture.
Everywhere I looked, I saw the evidence.
Friends drifting away from God. Compromise slipping in. Peer pressure strengthening.
It broke my heart to see these teens struggling. Because I’d walked in their struggles as well.
Teens like eighteen-year-old Brayden who said, “I’ve never pursued a passionate relationship with Christ because I’ve never had anyone to share it with. No one else I know takes God seriously.”
Or like sixteen-year-old Trevor who realized something was missing. “I know God is real. I’ve seen Him work in other people’s lives, but I can’t find the strength to change, so I’ve just put God on the back burner.”
These are the words from real teens, battling in the trenches of an apathetic, post-truth, anti-Christian culture. We’re wrestling through questions and doubts about God and Christianity as our peers, the media, and the culture around us feed us a myriad of messages, trying to influence our hearts. Some stand strong. Most give in.
Something needs to change.
Is it possible for teens to reject apathy and live sold out for Jesus? Is it possible to turn our backs to the culture and choose to follow Christ? Is it possible, that instead of a generation leaving the church, we could become a generation building the church, living for the glory of God?
My journey of writing Love Riot began with these questions but ended with this answer.
God has not given up on this generation. On the contrary, I believe He has more in store for us than we can imagine. The power which rose Jesus Christ from the dead can raise up the spiritually dying remains of this generation and spark a passion in teenager’s souls for His name.
The world, and even the church, doesn’t automatically think of teenagers as passionate followers of Christ—but I’m out to change that.
In this new generation arising, it’s my heart-cry to see a remnant living out the message of the gospel, embracing our commission to go out and make disciples.
It’s not an easy journey. It requires risk. Sacrifice. Surrender. But as Jesus said, the life of a follower isn’t safe. It’s not just a call to pray a prayer and be saved. It’s a call to lay down your life and be transformed. Luke 9:23 counts the cost, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
For every teen, for every adult, for everyone who desires to follow Jesus, it’s time to pick up our cross, and in the words of Elisabeth Elliot, “live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all [our] energy and strength into it.”
It’s time for a love riot.
Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 3
Artistic Nobody, July 4 (Author Interview)
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 5
Remembrancy, July 6
Simple Harvest Reads, July 7 (Author Interview)
Emily Yager, July 8
Inklings and notions, July 9
Texas Book-aholic, July 10
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 11
For Him and My Family, July 12
Mary Hake, July 13
SODBUSTERLIVING, July 14
Through the Fire Blogs, July 15 (Author Interview)
deb’s Book Review, July 15
Just the Write Escape, July 16
To celebrate her tour, Sara is giving away the grand prize package of a signed copy of Love Riot and a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.