Thursday, April 23, 2020

Review: "Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire" by Jen Hatmaker

Five years ago, I was on the launch team for Jen Hatmaker's For the Love. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the book changed my life. (See my review here.) In the time since she wrote For the Love, Hatmaker went through a very public (and very painful) shift in some of her beliefs, which moved her out of the conservative Evangelical sphere where I still reside. I think it's very healthy to hear from voices different from our own, so I was eager to read Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire—knowing that I wouldn't agree with 100% of Hatmaker's words but hoping to understand a different perspective and find myself challenged.

New York Times bestselling author Jen Hatmaker, with cheeky candor and fearlessness, guides readers to a deep dive into how they are wired and provides them with the tools to walk in that identity with freedom and guts.
Stuck in people-pleasing or fear, many women hide and pretend, then end up sidelined in their own lives. But what they want is to be brave, to claim every gift, dream, quirk, and emotion inside, to stop performing and start living.

Beloved New York Times bestselling author Jen Hatmaker understands the struggle to find firm footing in a culture that operates from stereotypes and often unreachable expectations. In this new book, she offers women encouragement, challenge, and humor as she helps them identify everything that makes them tick and gain the confidence to live it all out. She leads them through five self-reflective categories—who I am, what I need, what I want, what I believe, and how I connect—and helps them:
  • identify the exact ways they pretend, and learn instead how to be genuine at all times, in all ways, in all contexts;
  • be empowered to say yes and no without guilt;
  • learn to voice both their spiritual questions and convictions; and
  • opt out of drama and into healthy adult relationships.
With wry humor, earnest passion, and been-there insight, Jen calls women to the life-giving freedom of leaning into the identity, convictions, and community they’ve been given.

In both the opening and closing of Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire, Hatmaker states that most readers will find some of the chapters to be exactly what they need, while others won't apply at all. That pretty well sums up my experience with this book. Some chapters really hit me. Like, how on earth could she speak to exactly some of the things I'm struggling with at work? Other parts (literally all of the marriage and mom stuff) did not apply in the least. And some parts felt very familiar, like they came out of some of her other books.

I very much appreciated that she champions all women and encourages them to be their best selves. The body image chapter is on point, and the chapter on friendship/connection should be required reading. But there's a balance that's missing in this book—amid all the calls to be your authentic self and pursue your passions, I kept thinking, "But what if my passions are sinful?" There is zero mention of sin or our fallen nature or our need for God's grace in this book. For a self-help book, that's fine, but for a book that's supposed to be about Christian living (the category listed on the back cover), it's missing something. 

The best way to read this book would be chapter by chapter, discussing with a friend or book club as you go along. Probably the worst way is the way I read it, all in one afternoon. The perspective that would come from discussion with other people would be very valuable in informing how you ultimately perceive this book and how it challenges you. In the end, this book is one that I feel "meh" about: parts were great, parts were boring, and parts I could've done without. 3 stars.

Buy the book: Amazon |Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Thomas Nelson (affiliate link)
Read my review of For the Love (5 stars).

Jen Hatmaker is the author of the New York Times bestseller Of Mess and Moxie (plus twelve other books) and the host of the For the Love! with Jen Hatmaker podcast. She and her husband, Brandon, founded the Legacy Collective and also starred in the popular series My Big Family Renovation on HGTV. Jen is a mom to five, a sought-after speaker, and a delighted resident of Austin, Texas, where she and her family are helping keep Austin weird.
Connect with Jen
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through TLC Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. I am so glad you went into this looking to really hear her out even if her views are different than yours. I feel like that is such a huge thing especially now and that is so great. Thank you for being on this tour, I always enjoy your point of view. Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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