"Prepared for a Purpose"

As 870 children waited in fear, their elementary school rushed into lockdown mode. As the nation faced yet another Sandy Hook story of tragedy, one woman rewrote the ending (excerpt from the inside flap).

"Prepared for a Purpose: The Inspiring True Story of How One Woman Saved an Atlanta School Under Siege" by Antoinette Tuff, with Alex Tresniowski, is a captivating retelling of the events of August 20, 2013 at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Georgia, when a courageous woman came face to face with a gunman intent on killing everyone and himself and, through her compassion and conversation, calmed him to the point of giving himself up, ultimately preventing a devastating school shooting {sneak peak: read an excerpt}.

I was intrigued by this fast-paced book and, somehow, it was one of those books I "couldn't put down", perhaps because the story of what took place on August 20 is juxtaposed throughout the whole length of the book with Tuff's life story. And I found interesting not only the back story itself, but also the connection and realization that every part of Tuff's life—the responsibilities, challenges, hardships, and heartache—had prepared her for a purpose, to be in an elementary school front office when Michael Hill rushed in with an AK-47 and backpack of bullets, yelling "we are all going to die today", and mean the difference between life and death for hundreds of children and school staff.

Tuff did not have an easy life, facing homelessness as a young girl, a son with multiple disabilities, a marriage to her high school sweetheart that slowly dissolved and ended in divorce, and working long hours at multiple jobs just to make ends meet; yet, in the midst of struggles and sadness, Tuff suggests throughout her book that she always held onto her faith in God and His sovereignty and provision, mentioning her habit of spending time with God and her prayer life, as well as frequently including Bible verses in her writing. Tuff very clearly attributes to God her calm, composure, and even the words she spoke, on August 20, having learned through her life no matter what she faced to respond to with trust in God, anchored in hope. Overall, though, I felt the book was written very humbly and factually and was not preachy or holier-than-thou.

"Prepared for a Purpose" is a neat true story about how a woman's faith was influential in a situation as God worked all things for good, but in my opinion, it could be misleading to the general public or young believers. Some content was a little "out there" to me, for instance mentions of miraculous healing, albeit Tuff is very down-to-earth in noting "this is just what I saw". Beyond this, however, there is not a clear identification of Christ {apart from the vague "God"}. The average reader could easily draw the conclusion that there is a god out there who gives us a purpose and will use us for good in this life if we have faith and pray enough; and yes, it is true that God uses us for His purposes, to "accomplish His work" as Tuff writes, yet the prerequisite to that is whether we choose to follow Christ and accept His gift of forgiveness and salvation, making Him Lord of our lives. {Note: this is my opinion of the written content and how it could potentially be misunderstood, not a criticism or judgment of Tuff personally or spiritually.}

Though I had not previously heard of this book {or the school siege last summer, honestly}, I am glad I had the opportunity to read "Prepared for a Purpose". This book seamlessly weaves together the life story of an ordinary woman with her very real and eye-opening account of the suspenseful drama that made her a national hero. Antoinette Tuff's compassion, courage, and convictions will inspire and challenge readers, and her faith in God will hopefully also point readers to the One True God whose ultimate purpose for mankind is our redemption.

Disclaimer: This book was received for free from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.

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