Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review of Unconventional by J.J. Hebert and BOOK GIVEAWAY

YOUNG JAMES FROST just knows, deep in his bones, that he's a writer. He writes far into early mornings, after his wearying hours of scrubbing toilets and sweeping floors. He loves writing that much. But it's not only the joy of words that keeps him grinding; it's his desire to retire the janitor's mop. He sees being published as the key to living an improved life. James has another deep-seated conviction: that he's not good enough. He secretly longs to be accepted. However, the conventional others in his life seem all too willing to remind him that he's wasting his time. Then he meets and falls in love with Leigh, the one bright spot in his endless misery of self-doubt. A quiet but resolutely religious girl, she has to fight off disapproval of her own from overly critical parents, whose insults are countered by James's often-voiced admiration of her. Likewise, Leigh's faith in his talents begins to build his confidence, eventually allowing her to introduce him to a different way to help himself: relying on God. Ultimately, James's newfound faith is sorely tested to the point of doubt when his dream to be published seems to melt into a mirage, smothered by countless rejection slips from agents and publishers. His faith is also battered by having to fight highly emotional battles and suffer fear and loss. Just when James appears hopelessly sapped by devastating events, one last door opens, and he's rocked by an epiphany. UNCONVENTIONAL is designed to inspire readers to reach for their dreams.

As I read the first few pages, I was unsure if this was the type of book I’d enjoy reading. I’m not fond of the use of first person, but as I continued to read, J.J. drew me into the life of James Frost. Further in, I empathized deeply with the raw emotions James faced as he received rejection after rejection for his novel.  In fact, most of the first half of the book recounts the pain James faced from the rejection of his friends, his father, his girlfriend’s parents, and then his girlfriend. Reaching the absolute bottom of his life, he contemplates suicide. 

What makes this book Unconventional is how the story is told. As James discovers God’s love, he realizes that God is an unconventional God. Jesus’ method of salvation is an unconventional method. Life lived to the fullest is lived unconventionally.

This isn't the kind of fiction you choose to read for fun. This is a heartbreaking look into the life of someone striving for success despite the pressure working against him.  Like the fictional James, I know the pain of receiving those heartrending rejection letters from agents. The depth of emotion portrayed caused me to put the book aside several times. But the nagging need to know how James solved his problems prompted me to pick it up again. I am glad that I did. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to live life in an Unconventional way.

I received this book from Pump Up Your Books in exchange for hosting a blog tour by writing this review. Receiving the book did not influence the writing of a positive review.

J.J. Hebert's debut novel, Unconventional (paperback), became an best-seller in three categories on July 19, 2009. The Kindle version has been the #1 Inspirational Book in the Kindle Store numerous times. J.J. is also the founder of MindStir Media (, which helps authors successfully self-publish, distribute, and market books. Currently, he lives in New England, where he's at work on his latest novel and children's book.
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     How do you attempt to live your life unconventionally?

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