Jen Hatmaker

A Review of Jen Hatmaker’s “Of Mess and Moxie”

For the Love of Jen Hatmaker

“Of Mess and Moxie” Book Cover

Of Mess and Moxie is not a book meant for me. That’s only because I’m the owner of a penis, not a vagina. New York Times bestselling Christian author Jen Hatmaker is an author meant for women, but, despite that fact, I’ll always give a new Jen Hatmaker book a read. Why? First of all, and perhaps most importantly, Jen Hatmaker is wickedly funny. She’s one of the very few writers who can make me laugh out loud. And it’s usually a belly laugh. Just for her somewhat sarcastic and smart humour, any talk about lady parts and having periods will go forgiven. Secondly, Jen Hatmaker is a reasonable Christian. In this new book, she basically makes the statement that she cares as much about Jesus as she does about what’s for dinner. I love that attitude, as it shows that life isn’t always about religion — there are other things that are just as important.

Sadly, Jen Hatmaker’s life hasn’t been all roses this past year or two. For one thing, she came out last year in support of gays and lesbians, and found her books banned from a major US Christian book retailer as a result. However, Of Mess and Moxie is largely positive and upbeat. She doesn’t make too much reference to her personal troubles, and instead focuses on the ins and outs of raising a family and being a loving wife with a smattering of God talk sprinkled in. This is a rich, rewarding book that you will read as though you’re eating fine dark chocolate. You can’t have too much or you’ll get a sugar rush. You’ll really want to feel the weightiness of the words, if not get over your belly laughs along the way.

Just like the preceding For the Love, this book also comes with yummy recipes to try out. They’re all pretty exotic to me, but if I were more adventurous, I’d definitely give them a try. I salivated just reading about them. The book is also interspersed with mini How To guides, such as how to make time for Bible Study (note that it involves your husband walking into the room naked, har har). If I were a woman, I’d say that Jen Hatmaker succeeds in making you feel that you were one of her girlfriends (even if she kind of calls out the practice of idolizing her towards the end of the book). She’s chatty and personable, and so damn likable. I really wish Hatmaker would write a book for men, because I’m sure men could relate to her honest, down-to-earth and hilarious personality.

While I found Of Mess and Moxie to be a bit long and not at the level of For the Love, that’s only because nothing can top Hatmaker’s Tweets she would have made early in life if Twitter were around back then in the earlier book. Also, too, I may have had a diminished like for the book because these essays are so targeted at women that it can be, as a man, hard to relate to them. You see, Hatmaker’s not afraid to talk woman to woman about womanly things, so I felt as though I were a fly on the wall for a conversation that I probably had no business being a part of. This book, not so much like For the Love, is really a rah-rah guide for women. So, guys, Of Mess and Moxie is strong enough for a man, but really made for a woman.

Still, I love Jen Hatmaker. She never says anything that would be looked at as controversial for a left-leaning Christian. I gather she’s a bit of an evangelical, so her love naturally gravitates towards Jesus, but never does it feel like she’s stuffing her theology down your throat. Plus, oh my God, does she have funny stories to tell about being a parent — such as following a school bus to another city thinking that it was the bus that was taking her children on a field trip. Hilarity! Seriously, though, you can really sense the energy and patience that Hatmaker puts into being a mother, and she’s able to accurately reflect the experience of being loving of her kids but sometimes just downright exasperated at being a parent. In fact, Hatmaker actually comes off as being “one of the guys” from time to time, such as when she confesses to leaving the dishes in the sink overnight and binge-watching her favourite shows on Netflix with chips and salsa.

Did I say I love Jen Hatmaker? I do. Not in a stalker-ish, “I want to marry you” kind of way (but if there are any single women like Hatmaker out there on the Internets, do give me a call), but as a guy who loves her writing and her tone. I wish I could convey as easily and breezily and conversationally in text what she’s able to do. Of Mess and Moxie is a distillation of her efforts, and Hatmaker makes it clear that she’s pretty one-of-a-kind and in a league all her own. So, yes, I have a penis. Yes, I can’t relate to having a female child who licks the tampon box in the women’s bathroom (ew!). Yes, this book was really not meant for me. But I enjoyed it. Not as much as For the Love, and that might be, too, because For the Love was my first Hatmaker encounter. Still, Hatmaker is unique, and all you Christian ladies who aren’t offended by Hatmaker’s inclusivity towards the LGBTQ community should definitely sit down and read this book. And, Jen, if you’re reading this, I can’t wait for what you have to say to a male audience. Don’t keep us waiting. Just sayin’, you know.

Jen Hatmaker’s Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life will be published by Thomas Nelson on August 8, 2017.

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