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I CALL SHOTGUN [BOOK REVIEW]

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All godly fathers want to pass on a love for godly truths to their children.

I Call Shotgun is a collection of 64 “letters” from authors and fathers Tommy Newberry and Curt Beavers to their sons.

I Call Shotgun [Book Review]There are plenty of imitation sources of wisdom that are ready to offer ungodly alternatives to our children. By design, fathers are essential to impart godliness in their words and their actions.

This book purposes to impart wisdom through words.

“You only get one shot at life, son.” That’s a great summary of the book’s goal: to equip a son for life.

The introduction is necessary reading in order to make sense of the book. For example, without the introduction the text messages suggestions appear as pull quotes and don’t always relate to the content surrounding it.

Although the book is written from fathers to sons, the authors address other fathers in the introduction this way:

We are confident that you want to equip your son with the understanding and wisdom to succeed in the world today. We wrote this book with you [fathers] in mind.

Some Great Navigation

The letters serve as a catalyst for fathers to write their own letters to their sons, in order to help pass on a godly heritage.

The book’s title, I Call Shotgun, probably refers to the common phrase that requests someone who’ll ride beside the driver—perhaps as a navigator. The subtitle reflects this implication: Lessons from Dad for Navigating the Roads of Life.

Here are a few parts of the book I liked that offer helpful navigation for life:

  • I appreciate the fact that the chapter titles are more straightforward, giving a virtual topical index to the book. My top-ten favorites of the 64 chapters were these:
  1. Celebrate Other People’s Success
  2. Seek God First Every Day
  3. Assume a Gift is Hidden
  4. Leverage Your Strengths
  5. Build Productive Habits
  6. Prayer is Always the Answer
  7. Sow, Then Reap
  8. Discipline Yourself or the World Will
  9. Forgive with Abandon
  10. After Your Screw Up, Step Up
  • The book offers a wonderful variety of topics, short, easy-to-read chapters, and practical writing.
  • The content is really excellent. The essence of each letter urges sons to take responsibility, think for oneself, and to think clearly. In fact, the letters could also apply to daughters in most cases. The book is really from fathers to children.
  • The back of the book offers a number of questions as “conversation starters” for fathers to engage their sons.

Some Speed Bumps

As great as the journey is, the book still has a few speed bumps.

  • Adding the names of the authors’ sons before each chapter—and concluding each chapter with “Dad”—probably had the intentions of reminding the readers that these are letters. Certainly, these additions do make them more personal.  But I felt these personal additions distanced me from the content. It reminded me that I’m reading something NOT originally meant for me. It would have been more effective to leave off the salutations and closings.
  • The personalized nature of this book—using names, second person, personal stories: “Remember when?”—may connect with the sons, but with me, the reader, I felt disconnected.
  • The intermittent “handwritten” font is distracting.
  • I love the practical lessons on so many topics—true wisdom based on biblical principles. However, the Bible is seldom quoted or even referenced, and it would have been easy to add some verses in parenthesis.

Overall, A Great Trip

Although the book has these few drawbacks that impair its effectiveness, the content in each chapter overshadows these weaknesses.

Certainly, any collection of writings will only be as effective as the character of the one who wrote them. We’ve all seen the charades of fathers who write what’s right but live what’s wrong. This volume does a great job suggesting what fathers should teach their sons—both by words and by example.

For fathers who want to impart wisdom to their sons, this book gives some great ideas for topics that are essential for successful, godly living.

I Call Shotgun is worth the trip.

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