Most people don’t expect you to understand what we’re going to tell you in this book. And even if you understand, they don’t expect you to care. And even if you care, they don’t expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don’t expect it to last. We do.
A generation stands on the brink of a “rebelution.”
Do Hard Things is the Harris twins’ revolutionary message in its purest and most compelling form, giving readers a tangible glimpse of what is possible for teens who actively resist cultural lies that limit their potential.
Combating the idea of adolescence as a vacation from responsibility, the authors weave together biblical insights, history, and modern examples to redefine the teen years as the launching pad of life. Then they map out five powerful ways teens can respond for personal and social change.
One of my 2014 reading goals is to read more nonfiction. Lo and behold, I am following through with that and thought perhaps I should review some as well. (Especially since I currently have only one other such review.) So here is my take on Do Hard Things.
Do Hard Things is not the type of book I usually pick up. It’s extremely religious and I’m not the slightest bit so – I mean, the point is to do hard things for God – but I kept seeing it in “best nonfiction YA books” lists on Goodreads and I thought I might as well read it to see if there were any good ideas. And there were. I skimmed many sections, but I also found some stuff I liked.
The book’s premise is superb: we teenagers can do all kinds of things if only we try. We can handle a lot of responsibility, but we aren’t expected to. We shouldn’t give up our big dreams even if we’re told that we’re too young to achieve them.
Sounds motivating, right? Um. Somewhat so. The brothers’ ideas were brilliant, but I disliked how they wrote the book. I wasn’t a fan of its format, I guess. I had three problems with Do Hard Things.
For example, I liked that they gave many examples to show readers how the five types of hard things can be accomplished – but after a while, those became overwhelming. They kept going on and on, anecdote after anecdote. The book should’ve been half as long; although that would make Do Hard Things only about one hundred pages, I think that would still work. If you can make your point in just a few words, keep it short and simple!
My second problem related to the writing style. Although the authors expected – even demanded – a lot from their readers, they didn’t write in a way that showed they thought teens are intelligent. The writing was simplistic and quite often I felt like I was being talked down to. It was disappointing that I couldn’t stretch my mind.
And then there were the chapter lead-ins! Don’t even get me started on those. At the end of many chapters, Alex and Brett spent three or four paragraphs describing what the next chapter was about. Stop! Just move on to the next chapter and quit describing it in great detail like you think I’m pathetic and can’t handle a chapter that deals with a different subject than the one preceding it!
I feel this could have really condensed the book. I would’ve liked a shorter book with more complicated language, rather than something that appeared to be aimed at ten-year-olds.
The third problem was the book’s inconsistency. The brothers said that Christians – anyone, really – shouldn’t be known just for what they don’t do, for what they oppose. They should be known for what good they are actually bringing to the world. This is an excellent point!
But later they used opposing abortion as an example of change you can make in the world. My personal beliefs are irrelevant here – I just didn’t understand why they forgot such a good piece of advice from earlier in the book. I felt like they were saying, “Don’t be known for opposing things – except these things.”
All in all, Do Hard Things was an OK read. As I wrote above, I am not the target audience for this book. I think it would work best for Christian kids (obviously), then kids of other religions who can adapt it to work for their beliefs, then atheist/agnostic kids like myself who will read it for the ideas.
What did you think of Do Hard Things? Are there any other nonfiction books that you would like to recommend to me?