Friday, October 1, 2010

Regarding Jana and "Were You Raised by Wolves?..."

Were You Raised by Wolves?: And Seven Other Crucial Questions to Ask the One You Just Might MarryWere you Raised by Wolves?: And Seven Other Crucial Questions to Ask the One You Just Might Marry by Tobem Heim.

Publishing Info: Kregel Publications, April 12, 2010.

How I got this book: I won it as a First Read on Goodreads.

Why I read this book: It’s all in the spirit of the game! I always read and review the books I win, even if I only signed up to win them because the title was hilarious.

I signed up to win this from Goodreads because I thought the title was funny. Plus, it can be interesting to see how others view relationships. What I did not know was that this book dealt a LOT with Christianity. It would have been nice if their marketing strategy had included this, perhaps with a subtitle or SOMETHING. While I am a Christian, there are many different ways to approach Christianity and I did not like this author’s approach. I won’t go into my reasoning behind this, because everyone feels differently on the subject of God and religion. Needless to say, I should not have signed up to win this from Goodreads.

This review summarizes the content of the book, so you don’t really need to go and buy it… unless you feel that it might help you in your life.

The book deals with a lot of basic material. The author states in the beginning that he was engaged at 19, so I think that it was probably written for a rather young audience. He starts out by advising couples to discuss where they came from and how they grew up. Pretty basic. Address and discover weird habits. Obviously. Analyze why you are the way you are. Uh-huh... Clear the slate. And that's the whole first section. He gives you some discovery questions (questions the author has written out for you to ask yourself or your partner that either spur a conversation or help you decide if you should stay together) and some red flags (He's written red flags up in the hopes of helping you decide if you need to break up.). He does this at the end of every section. At this point, I'm not exactly impressed. There’s nothing groundbreaking that mankind has not already discovered and written about, but I press on.

The next section deals with communication. "Communication is the lifeline from which most other relational elements hang." Again, pretty basic. Anyone who does not know this should not be in a relationship (although… this is a sort of how-to book, so maybe the reader would not know this? I’m not sure). He discusses the communication model... and tells you that communication is a learned behavior--something you should have learned growing up. He encourages readers to clearly state what they mean and talk about things that bother them. This is all still really elementary to me.

Moving on. The next section addresses conflict resolution. He tells us it's normal to fight. It's human nature to be selfish, but we have unselfish models to look to. Yes, uh-huh. Then he gives us some principles for fighting. Know what you're fighting about, stick to the topic at hand, reach a "win-win" compromise, and remember you love each other (awww...). It would be lovely if it actually worked like this, don’t you think? I'm starting to think this book won’t ever impress me.

Next… money. The author explains that you need to assess your personal spending habits. Discuss how you live, aka... how expensive you are, before you get married. That's kind of obvious, right? Discuss how you save money and give it away. Mmhmm.

Then we have Friendships and Community... We need friends. His friends, her friends, and "their" friends. It's ok. Don't feel like because you're in a relationship you need to get rid of your friends. Oh, good. If your partner objects to a certain friend, work through it. Tell them why you love your friend and why they should love your friend too. Right. Encourage your partner's friendships if they build him up. Have friends of all ages, but preferably in your stage of life so they can act as peer mentors. Good grief. Don't abandon community. Ok. Are you still reading this review? I’m surprised I’m still writing it.

Next... Faith and religion. The author tells us that if we're not both "believers" the relationship will end in heartache. This adds to why I think this book needed a religion disclaimer on it somewhere. People who do not believe in having such a religious slant in life will be frustrated with their purchase. There have been hints at religion all through the book, but from here on out it’s a much more prominent theme. If it's not secular writing, it should say so in order to inform all readers and potential readers of what they are getting in to. This whole section discusses finding someone with a common religion, but in a less generalized way.

Moving on to Career and Calling. Careers matter. Go figure… Differentiate between a career (money) and a calling (service or a mission from God). If you don't, you won't be able to make ends meet. If you're involved in online dating or a long-distance relationship, discuss where you will live. Duh. Almost done!!

Then we move on to children and family life. Whoa! Did I miss something? What happened to the discussion of marriage in general? The book does not cover it anywhere, or the discussion of intimacy. Why, you ask? The author feels that sometimes it's not appropriate to have such discussions until several years into a marriage. Seriously? I don't agree with this at all, but whatever. Moving on. Kids will affect your lifestyle... yes... See how your partner interacts with children because you could learn a lot from that. Obviously.

The book ends with the author’s conclusion. He summarizes the book: observe your significant other, ask for feedback from your family and friends about your significant other, and be honest with yourself. Then he gives you some reflection questions to ask yourself… just in case you have not decided by page 125 if you should continue being with this person.

And that’s the end. Obviously, I was quite disenchanted. It was all just so basic and common sense. It felt like the book was directed towards a very young audience, and perhaps it was. I wasn't too clear on that. Sadly, I don't think I liked anything more than the title. I'm sorry I didn't like it, because the publisher paid to send me a free copy... and kind of wasted their money. I always feel bad when I have to write a bad review, but I had to be honest.

I’m sure there are readers out there who will find this book useful, especially if they are in their first relationship. I can’t really blame the author for my bad feeling towards the book. He makes a lot of valid, but incredibly basic, points. Every serious couple (a couple considering marriage) out there should know that communication is everything. They should know and have already discussed the questions the author poses. I blame the marketing team for not clearly directing this book towards the correct audience. This book gets no stars from me because I had to really force myself to finish it.


  1. I definitely agree with you that this should be labeled and marketed to the RIGHT audience. Seems a little bit misleading. The Christian aspect doesn't bother ME personally but if I weren't a Christian I'd be annoyed that it didn't say anything about it being slanted that way. Good thing we have things like book blogs and Goodreads to learn these things before we buy them!

    I feel like it all seems so basic for a book that is concerning taking that next step in marriage. I guess it might be good if it is your first relationship but I don't know...seems like one of those books that would frustrate me.

  2. Thanks for the totally honest review and actually defending the reasons you didn't like it! I think I signed up to win this book, but am glad I didn't..

  3. Fantastic review, Jana! This book sounds dreadful!

  4. That frankly sounds terrible! Well, not terrible exactly...just mis-aimed (?). I think perhaps they should have been going for a preteen audience?


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