This book review was made possible by the christianaudio Reviewers Program.
The In-Between by Jeff Goins takes the reader on a journey through the author’s own life experiences that taught him the importance of those moments that are slow, mundane, and seemingly insignificant, and how crucial they are actually in shaping us for the next big thing.
At least, that’s the idea. Personally, I found the book’s structure to work against itself, resulting in a listening experience with some lows and some highs that left me shrugging after it was over.
And that shrug has made this review really difficult to write.
When I decided to listen to this audiobook, it was based in part on the product description. I was looking for a book that would guide me through the Bible to see what God has to say on a topic, and this book looked like a good choice. After all, it is “a call to accept the importance that waiting plays in our lives” and will teach us that “moments of breakthrough are not where life’s greatest transformation happens”. Thirty minutes later, however, after listening to Goins go on and on about his trip to Spain, I came to the understanding that the Bible was not going to be used much, if at all. (Having now completed it, if my memory serves correctly, I don’t think a single passage of Scripture was quoted.)
This, unfortunately, set me against the book rather quickly, and I had to reorient my expectations. Rather than a Bible study, The In-Between is more like a memoir, a collection of reminisces about the author’s life, ostensibly to give readers a perspective their own lives have not provided. Again, though, here’s the shrug: I felt a disconnect between the message and the memories.
The memories Jeff Goins relates to teach us the importance of waiting primarily focus on his college term spent in Spain, his year-long tour with a worship band, the induced birth of his child after an ultrasound distressed his wife’s doctor (needlessly, as it turns out, thankfully), and a few other events. The trouble is, most of these are unique experiences that the average person will not experience, and I certainly haven’t. Yes, I greatly enjoyed hearing about his struggles with writing (because I can totally relate), and I also enjoyed his story about dating his future wife, but Goins’ attempt to use these experiences to relate a message of “waiting is important” ends up making him come off as very difficult to please.
But okay, maybe that’s the point. Maybe he was difficult to please, and these events and experiences helped him grow. And you know what? That’s probably true, but I don’t know, because he tells these stories out of chronological order, and so the reader can’t keep track of his spiritual development. An additional problem is that each memory is used to tell the same lesson: the mundane is important, waiting is important, every moment is crucial, we need to stop being so busy and enjoy life. As a result, it felt like Goins spent nearly four hours making the same point over and over again.
Now, don’t get me wrong: This is an important message, and it’s one we need to hear repeatedly. I just don’t think The In-Between does a great job with it.
The author himself, Jeff Goins, is the narrator of the audiobook, and he does a great job reading it. He is very easy to listen to, has a good speed, and, being the author, is able to give the words the inflections and tones he intended. The audiobook is very well done.