(This is my review of the book by Jasmine Holmes "Mother to Son" published March 2020 by InterVarsity Press. You can read selected quotes from the book here, and to purchase you own copy, click this link.)
There is something about a letter that sets itself apart from other writings. Letters are personal and have a sort of “sacredness” when a someone pours his or her soul over pen and paper for a the reader. Mother to Son captures this spirit. In Mother to Son, Jasmine Holmes gives her son, Wynn, a series of letters addressing various topics related to being black and Christian. Immediately I sensed the personal “sacredness” it possessed, and I felt I should be sensitive toward what the book contained.
Jasmine covered a lot in these letters including family tradition, heroes, slavery, and even her favorite poet, Langston Hughes. She talks to her son about where we fit in as well as how Christians should live in a flawed world and with people within and outside the black community. By page 68, Jasmine gets into serious mode, specially talking about how some people “just preach the gospel”. I agree, as I think some Christians fall into excuses saying passive things like “let’s pray for it," and instead need to repent to God for words we sometimes don’t mean.
As I dove further with the book, it got more intimate. Jasmine told her son how to treat fellow black people and the opposite sex in a backdrop of a dark history. She also talked about sexuality.
As the book wound down, Jasmine wrote to Wynn on how to stand up by being an advocate and a bridge, which was very insightful. She said that his story was unique but also he shouldn’t despise stories of other people or he would be guilty of tribalism. Mother to Son was well-rounded in terms of the advice Jasmine gave.
Mother to Son is a must read not just because of the events happening today. You’ll feel the heat of the fierce love of a mother to her little boy and how the gospel intersects with it. Heartfelt, honest, intimate, penetrating, and fervent are the words that drip from the pages of this book from start to finish. Jasmine definitely won me over with this book. If I could write my daughter a letter like what Jasmine wrote in this book, I think I’d cry a river before I could even write anything on paper! I think this must be the experience of writing Mother to Son. Highly recommended!
5 out of 5
(Review copy of this book was provided by InterVarsity Press)