By Phil Madeira
I had no idea of what to expect when my publisher, Jericho Books, sent me Heather Kopp’s Sober Mercies, especially when I noted the subtitle- “how love caught up with a Christian drunk”.
Trying to be a good team player, I agreed to take a look at Heather’s book even though I smugly didn’t think it would have many lessons for me. On the surface, it didn’t seem to immediately apply to me. In other words, I’m not an alcoholic and I enjoy drinking in moderation.
Well, I was wrong. As we all know, a good story applies to everyone’s life, and Sober Mercies is no exception. Heather’s story unfolds with such raw honesty that one is hard-pressed to put the book down. In fact, I kept this book on top of all the guitar and drum catalogs stacked on my bathroom shelf. My dreams of vintage Stratocasters were left in limbo while I was captivated by this real life story.
The author doesn’t spare herself as she reveals her cringe-worthy episodes, rife with shame and guilt. Driving her kids to school while drunk, hiding bottles in her bathrobe, and ruination of all manner pave the road to Heather’s recovery. The only consolation the reader has is the hope that the book exists because it has a satisfying ending.
The telling of this tale is done with humor and class, and a kind of self-effacement that doesn’t become tiresome. In fact, Heather’s humor is a clue to the health the she discovers on a harrowing journey.
The peril of reading a book like this one is in thinking about someone you know who should read it. After all, you’re not a drunk… Well, hang on for the ride, because you’ll find yourself somewhere in these pages.
The nitty gritty of Sober Mercies is the question of how people perceive God, particularly long time believers in God. Does God hear my prayers? Isn’t everything supposed to turn out right for believers? Heather writes:
What if God could only be trusted in a way that went far beyond simply trusting Him for any specific result? What if He could only be trusted with the outcomes, or despite the outcomes? What if He could only be trusted from the incomprehensible perspective of all eternity?
Heather’s book is a striking account of a family’s struggle with alcohol, and on the merit of that alone, it’s worth reading. But moreover, the questions raised by this Bible-believing, evangelical mother are universal questions that go beyond faith boundaries into the matters of the heart.