Behind the Shades - by Sheila Raye Charles - A Book Review

I thought that after "Apostate", this book would make a nice, encouraging, light read. Boy, was I ever wrong !

The book is about Sheila Raye Charles' relationship with her parents - she's a daughter born to one of Ray Charles' mistresses - and it tells the story via her experiences of prison, of reading her mother's memoirs and her childhood memories. I quite liked the structure, though I skipped some parts of the long letter from her mother to Ray Charles.

It's a very honest book . She talks about her estrangement from her father, about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child, about racial abuse, about her drug abuse and about her own varied sexual relationships, as well as her love of music and the christianized culture she grew up in.

I was hugely disappointed in this book. The author appears only to believe in unconditional love, which she interprets as being nice to people and not taking any notice of what they're mixed up in. Drugtaking and sexual relationships outside marriage, whether heterosexual or lesbian, don't come across as being at all inconsistent with Christian belief.

I waited for a conversion experience, but none came. Repentance was just about not being as close to God as one ought to be. Redemption comes through animated performances of music (Spirit, usually not The Spirit or... The Holy Spirit) and, finally, through $500 000 from her father's estate.

I can't recommend this book in any way. I suppose it gives a good window into a christianized "gospel" culture and the challenge of reaching people with the transforming grace of Christ.

Didn't think I'd ever do this, but no stars. (Amazon requires that I enter at least one star) I received the book in kindle format free from Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. Just as well !


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