Book Review: Holy Hot Mess

Mary Katherine Backstrom’s Holy Hot Mess can switch from laugh out loud funny to deep introspection to teary eyed all in the snap of your fingers. Her witty voice and relatable stories are perfect conduits for sharing her faith, reminding us that while we were fearfully and wonderfully made, we can still be a mess.

I highlighted the heck out of this ebook. Backstrom has a gift for saying hard things in a gentle way, slowly bringing her readers out of their comfort zone and inspiring perspective shifting thoughts even as she jokes about kidnapping a goat.

Some of my favorite moments from the book include these:

“Hey, God. If You do have a plan for my life, could you make it a little bit easier?”

“…Learning to live fully in the duality that exists in both the mountaintops of clarity and the marshes of the mess. You see, mess doesn’t cancel out the marvelous.”

“Whose standard of perfection am I trying to live up to anyway? Nobody can clear that bar. Mess is an equal opportunity definer. We all have crumbs under our proverbial car seats.”

“Doubt had infected my spirit. It found the wound of young social rejection and slipped in through that partially open door. It was a voice that whispered, “you’re too much” and “you’re not enough,” all at once, in a confusing, twisty lie.”

“We are fearfully and wonderfully made- every awesomely awkward piece. And if someone isn’t drawn to the parts of you that God made quirky, then, quite simply, those aren’t your people. And that can hurt, because dadgummit, loneliness hurts. But you were never, ever unlovable.”

Mary Katherine Backstrom, Holy Hot Mess

And those are only half the hilarious, insightful, and inspiring sentences I took the time to highlight. Backstrom has the gift of validating the reader’s experiences without dismissing the pain or diluting the uniqueness of the moment. She’s able to be relatable without force, reminding us that though childhood hurts can be a universal experience doesn’t make any one hurt less impactful to the individual.

Holy Hot Mess is the kind of book you want to read alongside your best friend, snorting with laughter at Mary Katherine’s crazy hijinks. By the end of the book, you feel like you’re one of MK’s friends, and start accidentally calling her by the nickname her friends use in the dialogue of the book, completely forgetting you’ve never actually met the woman.

Authenticity and relatable anecdotes populate this book, making it a fast and satisfying read. There are laugh out loud moments alongside sentences that hit you right in the gut and send you through shockwaves of introspection and deep thought. It’s a beautiful gift of a book, full of love and acceptance, and completely devoid of judgement and shame.

Mary Katherine Backstrom’s Holy Hot Mess is available now. Thank you to the author, Net Galley, and Worthy Publishing for an advanced copy such that I could write this review.

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