Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul - John Eldredge, Stasi Eldredge When I was a little girl (okay, not that little, but younger than I am now), I would imagine myself being a lawyer or a Jedi. I would save the world from criminals, uphold the ways of the Force, and travel the world (or the universe on my own starship). Eventually, the hero of my dreams (either detective or Luke Skywalker) would tell me how beautiful I was and marry me. Together, we would live happily ever after. Fast forward over a dozen years and the story is much different. Today, I have a less-than-glamorous job, no significant relationships with men, and little hope that anyone outside my family will ever call me beautiful.
My story is one that many women can relate to. In this book, John and Stasi acknowledge the way that women feel and encourage them to rise above it. Women are not called to mediocrity, is their cry. Women are meant to be beautiful, to be loved and to love, and to be involved in adventure and the way this can be achieved is by a meaningful, intimate relationship with the one who started it all: God, the ultimate lover.

What I Liked:
When I first started this book, I couldn't get into it. When my church group encouraged the ladies to read Captivating while the men read Wild at Heart, I took up the challenge--this time with better success. The entire novel absorbed me--particularly Chapter Two: "What Eve Alone Can Tell". In this chapter, John and Stasi gave me a picture of my femininity that I had never, in my wildest dreams, pictured before. Here, they assert that Creation was not complete without woman. For me, that was the most jaw-dropping moment of the book. "Creation is not complete without me?!?!" Woa.
Furthermore, John and Stasi give plenty of examples--Biblical, pop culture, and real-life men and women--of what they mean. In describing God and how he wants to love us, they use examples from movies that many women have seen: Titanic, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, and Sense and Sensibility to name a few (none of the movies are endorsed, only the imagery is used). When describing how parents influence a daughter's image of herself, several women's life stories are given. This real-life approach is also given when describing interactions with men, interactions with God, and interactions in the world and lends the whole book great authenticity.
But most importantly, John and Stasi made me realize how valued I was as a woman and how important it was for me to let go of all the chains and grudges and burdens I have been holding on to. In this manner, the book was a success and a delight.

What I Did Not Like:
Towards the end, the book begins to read like a to-do list, i.e. "So in order to feel better and be more beautiful follow the steps below". I hate this because I am the type of person who wants to do the items and conquer each before moving on in the book. But when you are just reading through a book (and don't plan on doing a step, waiting a few weeks/months, going to the next step, repeat), such a tactic does not work. And if I just read all the steps one after another without doing each one, I tend to get overwhelmed with all the "to-do" work I have in front of me.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
In relating a prior conversation, a woman says an expletive.
John and Stasi relate others' (and Stasi's) failed relationships. These include rape, sexual assault, physical abuse, verbal abuse, and other forms of domestic violence. Definitely not for younger teens; preferably for older teens and adults.

Overall:
Wow. Wow. What else can I say? I've learned so much about myself in the few days this book has taken to read that I never knew in all the years before. I know why I feel the way I do--and that many other women feel the same way. I understand how my parents influence the way I do things today. And I understand that God loves me in a special way--a romantic way that church never talks about.
Are you a lonely woman, looking desperately for someone to love and love you? Are you bored out of your mind in your job? Is someone calling you beautiful? This is a book that will show you that there is someone to love, to call you to adventure and who is calling you beautiful. A must read book.