“When I first discovered the grainy picture in my mother’s desk-me as a towheaded two year old sitting in what I remember was a salmon-orange-stained lifeboat-I was overwhelmed by the feeling that the boy in the boat was not waving and laughing at the person snapping the photo as much as he was frantically trying to get the attention of the man I am today. The boy was beckoning me to join him on a voyage through the harrowing straits of memory. He was gambling that if we survived the passage, we might discover an ocean where the past would become the wind at our back rather than a driving gale to the nose of our boat. This book is the record of that voyage.”Â
Born into a family of privilege and power, Ian’s life is populated with colorful people and stories, including the account of an alcoholic father who secretly works for the CIA and takes his family on a wild roller-coaster ride through wealth and poverty and back again. Filled with tales of a nearly blind English nanny who teaches him what love means, a famous New York radio personality who saves his life, a simple carpenter who leads him to faith in Jesus, and his own personal journey from addiction to twenty-three years of sobriety, this memoir (of sorts)Â speaks of the mysterious movement and presence of God woven throughout the adventure of his life.
Memoirs are interesting things, as are memories.Â They are seen through the perspective not of the moment in which they exist, but through the eyes of the present.Â Cron calls this a memoir â€œof sorts.â€Â He states: â€œNo matter how hard I tried, I couldnâ€™t tell the whole truth about my childhood by rigidly sticking to the facts.â€
Cron is foremost a storyteller and his writing style is superb.Â Iâ€™d have to say he is one of the most gifted wordsmiths that I have ever had the privilege of reading.Â In fact, one of the reasons I loved his book Chasing Francis was not only that it read more like a biographical story than a novel, but because every phrase seemed so perfectly crafted. So when I had a chance to review this book I accepted and I came to the story simply accepting that we all see the past through todayâ€™s perspective and knowing that I too tell my story with more impression, belief Â and interpretation than with rigid fact.
So this is Ianâ€™s story.Â And he doesnâ€™t moderate what is ugly or what is false.Â His false beliefs about God are there laying side by side with what is true.Â When he speaks of the years where he believed that God abandoned him he speaks it as fact, not with the injections of a narrator telling you that he believed such a thing, but that it was actually an incorrect belief.Â This is meant to be a memoir after all, so I could put aside all my evangelical wrestling with his perspective and read this not as something to be believed, but as something that he believed, something that shaped him.
This is the story of a man and his father.Â In the beginning Ian stated that a boy needs a father who would â€œshow him how to be in the world.â€Â He wanted to be â€œtaught how to read a map so that he can recognize the roads that lead to life and the paths that lead to death, how to know what love requires, and where to find steel in the heart when life makes demands on us that are greater than we think we can endure.â€Â At the end he confesses that he wants to be a father who shows his son â€œhow to be in the world; how to love himself; how not to settle for too little; how to walk with God with humility, compassion and a heart that makes room for everybody; how to never hide his true self because heâ€™s afraid.â€
In truth, I disagree with some of the authorâ€™s theology and wrestle with some of his conclusions, and yet, I found in this story a tale of honesty and grace.Â A tale of, as Ian describes, a relationship with a great God who stoops down low to draw us to himself.Â Could the tale have been more Christ centered?Â Yes.Â Could the book have more clearly presented Biblical truth?Â Yes.Â Did the author present a compelling story of grace, a story worth reading?Â Yes.