Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan, in their autobiographical book “Out of a Far Country” have written an intriguing retelling of the story of the Prodigal Son. When it came time to choose a book to review, this seemed to be the best of a rather mediocre lot, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The personages in the book don’t ‘read’ as well as fictional characters might, but there was something in the stories that managed to keep my attention. Although in this case it’s drugs and a gay lifestyle that separated Christopher and his mother, the story is universal and timeless: as children many of us want to be our own person, and so we insist on doing even those things that we know will hurt our parents hearts – not to mention the heart of God. And as parents we want the best for our children and often have a difficult time dealing with their decisions. And God has to deal with all of His children and our sometimes less than wonderful choices.
Although Angela frequently mentioned her Chinese background and culture as being important in some of her decisions, there wasn’t enough of the culture shared for me to really see how it must have impacted her. Likewise she frequently mentioned the marital difficulties that she experienced but at times it seemed that she threw that in as an excuse for her decisions. Just a little more insight might have made it easier to understand some of her thought processes.
Christopher on the other hand seems to have developed a knack for writing; he provides enough explanation so that the reader can understand the environment in which he found himself - without bogging us down with details that would make most of us uncomfortable.
I’ve known people who lived the roller coaster ride of ‘sex, drugs and rock & roll’ and wish I could say that their lives were such an awesome display of God's grace as was that of Christopher Yuan. The story of the preparing, the God-moments, the total brokenness that was required for both Christopher and Angela to be pulled into God's loving arms where they could experience the redemption that God desires for each of us make this worth the read, regardless what you might think of the literary style or even some of the subject matter.
And the truth is that just like the father and son in Luke 15, just like Angela Yuan and her son Christopher, we’re all prodigals, traveling our own journey away from and back to God. And I join Angela in praying that your ‘sentence’ will be not too short, not too long, but just the right length for you to be able to come to fully experience the love of God.
4.5 out of 5 stars
“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.