(Review) Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart by Scott Eyman

Hank and JimPublisher and Publication Date: Simon and Schuster. October 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography.
Pages: 385.
Source: Library. Kindle edition.
Rating: Recommend.
Audience: Fans of Henry Fonda and James Stewart. Fans of Hollywood.

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Hank and Jim is highly readable. I was immersed in the story of Hank and Jim from the first page.
I’d had this book on my TBR list since it was published last year. Not only am I a fan of old Hollywood films, but both of these actors are favorites.
Another aspect that intrigued me about this book is the men were unlike in many ways, yet they were lifelong best friends. This is a key feature of the book.
Hank and Jim starts at the beginning of their lives and follow through to the end.
The book does not solely focus on their acting careers. The book shares information about their romantic relationships and marriages. In addition: military involvement, children, organic gardening hobby, religious beliefs, and political choices.
A straining period for the lifelong friends was during the Vietnam War. Stewart’s son was killed in Vietnam, and Fonda’s daughter, Jane, made a trip to Vietnam as a political activist. It was a difficult time for both men, but their friendship endured.
Both men were in love with the same woman, actress, Margaret Sullavan. She and Henry were married and divorced in the early 1930s.

margaret sullavan
Other notable film stars are in the book: Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Olivia de Havilland, and Norma Shearer.
Hank and Jim is a “feel-good” read about celebrities. In this age of political allegiances and hateful words, it felt good to read a book about two well-known men who were unlike in many ways, yet they were best friends who deeply respected the other.

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(Review) Even in Our Darkness: A Story of Beauty in a Broken Life by Jack Deere

 

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Publisher and Publication Date: Zondervan. March 6, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography. Relationships.
Pages: 288.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.

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Author Bio (from Goodreads):
Jack Deere, formerly an associate professor of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, is a writer and lecturer who speaks throughout the world on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He is the author of the bestselling book Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. Follow Jack on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorJackDeereJack Deere

When I bought this book and began reading I had no idea the author grew up just in the adjoining neighborhood to the one I live in. The streets and places mentioned in the book I know very well. I know several people who grew up in this neighborhood. The name of the place is Handley, TX. Handley used to be its own town. It became annexed to Fort Worth in the 1940s. It was established by a Confederate soldier in 1884. The town sits right near the railroad. A small cemetery holding several confederate soldier graves rests nearby. The houses were built in the 1930s-1950s. It is a neighborhood where most of the people care for their homes and yards. It is a medium to low income neighborhood. The cemetery where Lee Harvey Oswald is buried is on the east side of Handley. A school where I am a volunteer tutor for reading is in this neighborhood. Handley is looked down on and ignored because it is not sophisticated. This is a shame.

Even in Our Darkness is the biography of Jack Deere. He shares his life story both the good and the bad. The bad meaning the stressful and painful memories.
Alcoholism and the brokenness in the family traveled through the generations. The apex is when this reached his marriage and a son.
Jack Deere became a pastor; and pastors are supposed to have it all together, be a Christian model of success, and project only good Christian morality. I know this to be untrue, but many people count on their pastor to live up to certain standards.
Childhood scars left unhealed don’t go away, and Deere was living a façade.
It reminds me of driving around in a neighborhood looking at houses and remarking on how clean or pretty they look. All I’m seeing is the exterior. I have no idea what is going on inside the house. This is a strong lesson for all of us. We do not know what is really going on in a house, only the people who live there really know its contents.
Even in Our Darkness is a Christian nonfiction book. This book is not a sweet package. It is a raw view of the reality of alcoholism, abuse, and suicide.
I’m no stranger to these things. I’ve seen first hand its impact. I’ve felt the sting and scarring of it. I’m thankful for writers like Jack Deere who step up to the plate in transparency and talk about the hard stuff. In talking about the hard stuff, the reader can began to compile and work through their own painful memories or even current life situation. The reader no longer feels alone.
Jack Deere through most of the book is not a person I’d want to know. He was presumptuous and superficial. I noticed in the book he stopped talking about his wife, she is shoved to the back of his thoughts (during that period of his life.) Later, there is a point when he mentions her, his feelings and thoughts. This is a bitter sweet moment.
I struggled to read the painful memories of the son who was just lost. Lost in a dark world of addictions and mental health issues.
Deere remarks on people who brand Christians who are not where the brander thinks they should be, and the judgment pushes away those who need to be loved on the most.
This is an important book to read. It is not an easy read, because of the content.

Favorite quotes:

What I really needed all along, more than anything was to see myself through his eyes. Page 278.

When the devil wants to send a message, he can always find a religious person to deliver it with perfect timing.
But it didn’t work. I had become a Christian thirty-five years earlier, and at my moment of belief, the idea of Saint Peter’s scales was forever banished-at least as far as salvation was concerned. Perhaps the only thing of which I was still certain was that no one gains eternal life through good works. It is through faith in Jesus alone. And once he is in our heart, he never leaves.
We can’t possibly be aware of all our sins, let alone confess them all. Page 228.