Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"I Still Believe" Review

I Still Believe is the story of Christian music artist Jeremy Camp. Written by Jeremy Camp and David Thomas, this memoir covers Jeremy’s growing up years along with his journey to Bible College and the heartbreaking story of the loss of his first wife, Melissa, to cancer.

But the story doesn’t stop there. What follows is the incredible account of how God used these events in Jeremy’s life to bring hope and healing not only to Jeremy himself but to countless others who have been inspired by his music. Ultimately, this road led to success in the Christian music industry and also to a place where Jeremy was able to find love again.

I started listening to Jeremy Camp’s music probably around the mid-2000s and my top three favorites of his are This Man, Restored, and Walk by Faith. When I first heard his music, I liked it – especially those three favorite songs – but I wouldn’t have necessarily called him my favorite artist. I am definitely not claiming to be a music critic, but I often thought that Camp’s music lacked…something.

That changed when I saw him in concert with Casting Crowns in 2007. Now, my husband and I don’t often go to music concerts. We love music, we both play instruments, but we just don’t have the time or money to attend that many concerts. When we found out that Casting Crowns was going to be coming to Indiana, we decided to splurge and take the time to go see our favorite Christian band in concert. The fact that Jeremy Camp would be there, too, was a bonus.

At the concert, we really enjoyed Casting Crowns, but we were truly blown away by Jeremy Camp. His songs came alive when he was on stage, and he was so real. (It was also neat to see his emotion at being back in Indiana - this was soon after he had moved to Nashville, Tennessee). I think that is what doesn’t come through very well when you hear his songs on the radio – the emotion, the depth of faith, and the realness.

OK, so after that tangent about music, I will turn my focus to the book. Since I have seen Camp in concert, I somewhat knew the story of his first wife, Melissa, and what he went through during her illness and after her death.  I Still Believe is a more complete story of Jeremy’s life growing up, the journey he and Melissa went through, and the paths his life has taken since. I’m pretty sure this is an updated version of a book by this same name that was released a few years ago.

One of my favorite parts of this memoir was reading about Jeremy’s years growing up in my adopted hometown of Lafayette, Indiana. As a Purdue graduate, it was interesting for me to read about the decision he made between going to Purdue and going to Bible College in California. Since we are also about the same age (his birthday is actually the same as mine! January 12th! I am just one year older than he is), then I could really relate to the references that he gives about his time in college during the late 90s.

The spiritual aspect of this book is actually why he wrote the book in the first place. Jeremy’s journey of faith, grief, loss, and healing is emotional, heartbreaking, and real, but extremely relatable. While I didn’t always agree with some elements of theology or doctrine or whatever you want to call it, the gospel of Christ is clearly presented. Ultimately, Jeremy gives all the glory to God.

I also thought it was interesting to read about some of the ‘lesser known’ events and things in Jeremy’s life - how he met and fell in love with his wife Adrienne, his navigation of the Christian music business, and the stories of his parents.

Another really great piece of this book is reading about the stories behind Jeremy Camp’s songs. When you go back and listen to the ones referenced in this book, you get a whole new perspective on them – kind of how I felt after experiencing his songs in concert.

In order for a biography or a memoir to hold my attention, it has to be written well, and it has to be captivating. This book was both.

*Jeremy Camp’s latest album, Reckless, releases February 12, 2013, from BEC Recordings.*

I will give I Still Believe … 4 ½ BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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