A Sheltered Life: Take It to The Streets by Dr. Jeremy Reynalds is a challenging book to review. Dr. Reynald’s story, his mission and his purpose are powerful. His faith in God and his devotion to God’s calling is inspiring. The book itself falls short for me.
In the beginning there is a brief introduction to Dr. Reynald’s early life in England. We, as the readers, become vaguely aware of the fact that his parents fought a lot, he was bullied at school, and felt excluded and out of place no matter where he went. He was a lost soul with no safe haven. I wish that Dr. Reynalds would have delved deeper into his early heartache and childhood pain because it would have helped to connect with his later struggles and triumphs. It is such a brief telling (approximately 10 pages) that it barely resonates. It’s unfortunate because with a book about spiritual rebirth, salvation, and saving others through faith, I would have liked to have connected with Dr. Reynald’s early struggles better than I did.
The same goes for the next brief phase in his life which occurs when he moves from England to the United States. He lives with an English pastor and his wife in Orlando, FL who tell him that he must support himself and not rely on them to care for him. He never describes how he faced these challenges or how he supports himself. We know that he travels with a youth revival group for the summer, returns back to Orlando and meets his future wife at a local church and they marry a few months later. Once again, the details are vague. It continues like this throughout the book. We receive very little insight into Dr. Reynalds personal life.
It was disappointing because I wanted to read about how Dr. Reynalds confronted his challenges, overcame his obstacles, recovered, earned his Phd, and founded Joy Junction. Instead, the only details we are exposed to are the specifics of Joy Junction. It read more like an advertisement for his shelter and less like a memoir of an inspiring and successful life. The work that Dr. Reynalds does through Joy Junction is commendable and so desperately needed through the U.S. The heart and compassion that Dr. Reynalds has for the homeless is touching and there is absolutely no room to criticize his mission or the purpose of Joy Junction. I have the utmost respect for his work and his faith. I read this book because I expected a personal memoir about a man who overcame homelessness, earned his Phd and founded a shelter to help others like him and I closed the cover feeling let down. I’m impressed by his work at Joy Junction and wish him, and all of the employees at Joy Junction, much success with their work.
Closed the Cover