Thursday, October 11, 2018

White Picket Fences by Amy Julia Becker

This book was enlightening and challenging. Having grown up in a lower middle class farming family, I would not have considered myself privileged. I had no idea. Reading Becker's memoir and thoughts on privilege made me realize I grew up privileged and still am.

Like Becker, I cannot change my ethnicity nor social status. But, like her, I should also realize that this privilege did not come because of my effort nor is it a sign of God's favor. (1748/2807) But it does come with responsibility. Like her, I must see privilege as an opportunity and responsibility to pass on the blessings God has so graciously given me.

Becker shares much of her life. Part of it is to show the transition in her thinking, moving to understanding privilege and its influence. She shares where her life has not been all roses to show that, even in the midst of hardship, she was still privileged. She and her husband have a child with Down syndrome, for example, yet have access to special education programs and doctors.

Becker reminded me I have been given much I have not deserved. (1905/2807) She challenged me to explore how I can value every person, seeing each one as a gift, made in the image of God. Yes, there is sin and brokenness but Becker reminded me we are all broken in some way.

I recommend this book to readers who want to understand more about privilege and the responsibility it carries. Becker doesn't have the answers but she does know it involves sacrificial love. She gives some encouraging illustrations of people living out that sacrificial love and invites us to do the same. There are discussion questions included so this would be a good book for a reading group.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Amy Julia Becker is the author of Small Talk, A Good and Perfect Gift (named one of the Top Ten Religion Books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly), and Penelope Ayers. Becker is a graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary. Her essays about faith, family, and disability have appeared on the Motherlode blog of the New York Times, USA Today,,, the Washington Post online, the Christian Century, Christianity Today, and the Huffington Post. She is a big fan of frozen yogurt, hiking in the nearby woods, and asking her children to be introspective about their lives. Amy Julia lives with her husband and three children in western CT. You can find out more at

NavPress, 240 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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