Life Without Facebook: My Lenten Journey (book review)

I’d been curious about Amy Munson’s book for years. I put it off for years and years, telling myself, ‘Maybe next year I’ll read it, see what it’s all about.’ A few years later, I thought Lent would be the ideal occasion. Thankfully, I heeded the call this year and in some ways, I wish I’d done it sooner. But there’s a time and place for everything, and I don’t think I would’ve appreciated it then as much as I do now. 

Life Without Facebook is just that: the author’s journey throughout Lent without the presence or influence of said social media. It was an admirable story of love and grace, mercy and the full meaning of repentance, filled with anecdotes of the trials and tribulations that life inevitably tossed their way. Throughout Munson’s memoir, the reader gets a clear sense of what it must be like for Amy and her family. I could visualize her life as a coffee connoisseur, a wife, mother to two wonderful boys (one of which is on the autism spectrum,) a daughter of God, and a family who thrives on laughter. Not just an occasional funny one-liner, but hilarity in spades.

By the halfway point, I felt like I knew them.

The anecdotes were made relatable through Munson’s humility and honesty, and with them, her willing vulnerability. Those qualities, to me, communicates much more than eloquent prose or editing, which isn’t to say they aren’t important or that Life Without Facebook wouldn’t be a stronger effort because of them. It would have. The cover artwork leaves some to be desired, as well, but I can empathize with the constraints of a good editor and artist. Earnestly though, the prose and cover didn’t really bother me, though I can understand them possibly being off-putting to some readers. 

The other element which I found lacking pertained to the theme itself: abstaining from Facebook. Munson’s decision to do so was mentioned in the early chapters, but it would’ve been more compelling if we knew the origin of her choice. What was the thought process there? Did she give it a lot of consideration, or was going cold turkey more opportunistic than deliberate? Along the way, I would’ve liked to have seen the impact of not having that consistent interaction online. Did she have many Facebook withdrawals? If so, was it moderate or severe? How difficult was it abstaining? Again, this wasn’t a big deal. 

The neat quality about the anecdotes were the unique parallels she drew for the audience, and in a lot of ways, that approach was reminiscent of Jesus’ fondness for telling parables to illustrate an important lesson. I liked that each one started innocent and unpredictable enough, but by the end, a larger, more relevant truth (usually religious) came to light. That astounded me. To me, that was what made them relatable. Is it more relatable if you’re a person of faith or if you have a child with autism? Of course. But I don’t believe either is required in order to enjoy the book. 

There were so many that had an impact, that caused me to set the book aside and really give whatever she was talking about considerable thought. Passages such as PRICELESS or When the Brooder Basket is Empty.

There are times in our lives when we seem to stop producing spiritually. We feel like we have nothing to offer to God, or anyone else. Our prayers are cold, reading God’s Word leaves us tired and confused and we just feel out of sync with God. It can be difficult to know why; are we bound by sin? Has a hardship left us frail and run down?

If I had to name an absolute favorite, it would be Hearts of Palm (Sunday) Salad.

Munson also utilized some great Scripture, which supported the essence of her anecdotes. I’ll leave one of them here in closing:

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

-Psalms 30:5

Rating: 4/5 stars

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