Suffer Strong: A Book Review by Kathryn Dover
I reviewed Katherine and Jay Wolf’s first book, Hope Heals, a few months ago and have been looking forward to reading the sequel, Suffer Strong (Zondervan, 2020). Suffer Strong is different from its predecessor but nonetheless relevant and inspiring for today.
Katherine Wolf suffered a massive brain stroke at the age of twenty-six that forever changed her life. The ten-year process she, her husband, and their two young sons have undergone is truly a story that needs to be shared, and she and Jay elaborate on this process in Hope Heals. While it does reference Hope Heals, Suffer Strong is an independent story, addressing a variety of topics including death, failure, and waiting—essentially the challenges they faced throughout Katherine’s recovery. The line on the book’s cover accurately summarizes its contents: “How to Survive Anything by Redefining Everything.” Without redefining every aspect of their situation, Katherine and Jay would not have a relationship with God or with each other that they have today. Redefining suffering could be simply stated as having a positive, Christian outlook, but Suffer Strong shows how it is much more.
In Suffer Strong, Katherine and Jay’s goal is to help you learn how to respond to life’s circumstances and suffer strong like Jesus. They want their story to help others realize that sharing in Christ’s suffering is a gift. Indeed, the fact that their faith remained strong through excruciating troubles is the strongest part of the book.
Both Katherine and Jay narrate sections of the book in a funny, enjoyable way. Their personal anecdotes kept me entertained where I did not want to put the book down and made their points relevant to me. Katherine and Jay’s wonderful use of alliteration, repetition, metaphors, present tense and beautifully crafted sentences are part of what makes their book so powerful. In addition, the book is rich with Bible passages and quotes from famous people, authors, and the Wolfs’ close personal friends. Katherine and Jay’s personal stories convey a lot of meaning in a very practical way that everyone can apply to his own life, and the stories aid readers in understanding what Katherine and Jay went through.
I recommend Suffer Strong to teens and adults because its various messages are relevant to a variety of people. The book contains several passages on marriage and commitment that are very relevant to young adults, but even middle-grade children, while they may find some passages difficult to understand, can benefit from certain passages that address suffering and why it happens. I can envision that my mother would have read portions of this book to me when I was younger. I think this book is especially relevant during the coronavirus pandemic when there seems to be no end. Suffer Strong is a light in the darkness, reminding you that God is in control. I hope you find this book as inspiring as I did!
Kathryn Dover lives in South Carolina with her family including six cats (and counting!), a dog, two fish, and many house plants. She attends Presbyterian College and is studying Math and Creative Writing.