Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Review: Ken Mansfield's Stumbling On Open Ground

My interest in reading other books from Ken Mansfield's novels after finishing this one has definitely increased. I consumed this one in a day, and for something that went by that quickly it was a powerful read. Don't expect him to talk about his career in music much as he has before though as this one is a discussion over his struggles with battling cancer and how he maintained his faith throughout the most brutal times of his life.

He has played a part in the fame of The Beatles, and countless other musicians, but Mansfield is about to experience one of his biggest struggles yet. Ken Mansfield has felt something off for a few years, but no doctor is giving him a diagnosis that has succeeded in finding the problem until 1999 when he is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. This first bought of cancer won't be his last though, and he finds himself battling it again in 2009. His wife Connie is a sturdy support in backing him through the rough times, and she includes pieces from her view at the beginning of each chapter. Mansfield focuses on how their faith in Christ kept him strong even when he struggled to have his faith as strong on some days when he thought he wouldn't make it.

As you're reading Mansfield's account of his battle with cancer you feel yourself trying to really grasp what he is saying. He talks about how their were times he didn't feel his faith was working, or that he wasn't trusting as he should be, and you understand as most other Christians have been there. You try to imagine how it would be to be in his spot though, and then be able to find peace in your faith in the way he did with a much bigger obstacle than some of us will faith.

The thing that helps is that Mansfield and Connie are two likable people. You feel their hope and struggles and you are cheering them on as they share their stories. The few times that Mansfield's discusses the career that made him famous you want to pick up some of his prior books on his work with The Beatles, and other groups just to read about the music industry he was in when it was at one it's heights. He does it in a way that somehow still has an atmosphere of humbleness about it. Also, Mansfield just never gives off an uptight vibe that some Christian novels do. He talks about the embarrassing moments he had when dealing with cancer, he shares some of the struggles he had being in the secular industry, and he has obvious love for the music from the time he was working in it.

The book could have been a tad stronger had a little more interaction between the characters been provided or had it been written more like a memoir. Instead it is mainly thoughts from Mansfield on how he got through his cancer ordeal. It works, and has power to it, but could have been told with more dialogue. The bits where Connie speaks added something to that made it more powerful.

There are some very depressing moments, and there are very encouraging moments. He doesn't shy away from the harshness of what he has dealt with, and the realization that as he gets older much of the people he used to know are already dead. One of the darkest moments is probably when he discusses how half the music people he was around are dead now, and he realizes he is somewhere to be in that line at some point. His hope in Christ is what balances the novel out with that message though. Mansfield has a led a life that makes a intriguing, and encouraging story to read, and the fact he shares that makes it worth picking up to read.

Rating 4 of 5.

This book was provided by Booksneeze in exchange for a review. 

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