Thursday 12 July 2018

Book Review: Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown

By Ian Acheson  @achesonian

A 2013 Midwest Publishing Awards Show Honorable Mention Sharon Garlough Brown tells the moving story of four strangers as they embark together on a journey of spiritual formation: Hannah, a pastor who doesn't realize how exhausted she is. Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past. Mara, a woman who has experienced a lifetime of rejection and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage. Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right. Youre invited to join these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and find themselves drawn out of their separate stories of isolation and struggle and into a collective journey of spiritual practice, mutual support and personal revelation. Along the way, readers will be taken into a new understanding of key spiritual practices and find tangible support for the deeper life with God. If you want to travel this journey with others, you will find a group study guide and book club resources at

This is quite a unique story, part instructional non-fiction, built around the fictional account of four women from different backgrounds who meet at a Scared Journey retreat. It's compelling reading as we get into the detail of each of these women's lives and their journey towards God's heart. Even though I'm a man I was able to relate to all four of them at various stages of their journeys. Whether it was Charissa's perfectionism, arrogance and thirst for information, to Hannah's being lost in her calling, to Mara's struggle with a non-believing spouse and Meg's struggle with the loss of her parents and fiancé, I found a bit of myself in all of them.

I particularly enjoyed how Brown combines the heart journey and desire for intimacy with God with the telling of the ladies lives. It's a tremendous practical demonstration of how we can pursue the heart of God while going about our lives incorporating various spiritual disciplines plus the importance of community (ie, each other) and guidance from a mentor (in this story it was the leader of the retreat: Katherine).

The novel is filled with spiritual insight plus instructional guidelines as to how to incorporate various spiritual disciplines and provides a wonderful insight into a scared journey with the Lord.

I'm excited to read the next one in the series.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter


  1. Yes,I enjoyed this book too, Ian, and thought it was a unique way of gently introducing readers to the idea of retreats, having a mentor, being part of community etc. I would never have thought of doing that in novel format--almost wish I had!

    1. Me too, Jo-Anne. I would have loved to have thought of it too.

      Have you read any more in the series?


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.