Book Review: “Death By Minivan” by Heather Anderson Renshaw

Book Review: “Death By Minivan” by Heather Anderson Renshaw November 23, 2018

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full affiliate disclosure here.

I was so excited to receive a review copy of Heather Anderson Renshaw’s book “Death by Minivan.”

Full disclosure: I received the review copy weeks ago. It might’ve even been in October; I’m can’t remember. I read the first chapter — which was great — and then real life beckoned and I had to put the book down because my kids sounded like they were trying to kill each other in the other room. One thing led to another, and it was a day or two before I could start reading again.

And then I couldn’t find the book.

It wasn’t where I’d put it down. Over the next few weeks, I searched all of my bookshelves, my cluttered kitchen counter, and underneath all of the beds and couches and chairs. I even looked in the toy boxes and dresser drawers, to no avail.

Just when I was about to break down and buy the Kindle version so I could finish reading, I did what I should have done in the first place — I begged St. Anthony for his intercession.

And sure enough, I found the book! Or rather, my oldest daughter found it on the floor under a shelf when she was helping me clean out the pantry. I have no idea how it got there. I guess I should count myself lucky it wasn’t in the freezer — or the toilet!

It took me another week to get enough uninterrupted reading time to finish, but I eventually did, and now I can finally write my review.

death by minivan heather renshaw

“Death by Minivan” is a metaphorical road trip through the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (cf. Galatians 5:22-23), with a chapter devoted to each.

At the end of each chapter, she includes roadblocks we might encounter, ways in which we can “yield” to the Holy Spirit, “GPS: God Positioning System” (aka scripture references), and “Roadside Assistance” (wisdom from the saints and others) and “Pit Stops” (other resources).

She also has a space to write notes and includes discussion questions, making this an excellent book for a women’s book club or Bible study — either online or in person.

The vehicular theme is clever and, I thought, very well done. I giggled at the bit in her prologue where she discussed her existential angst about buying a minivan:

In my mind, buying this minivan meant my husband and I (but especially me, since I would be driving the darn thing) had finally given up trying to have an identity outside of family life. We’d hoisted the white flag, thrown in the towel, and thrown up a little in our mouths. Because, really? What was left after this but even more children, even more sleepless nights, even more worry about how to pay the bills, and eventually… gasp… a full-sized van. Buying this vehicle truly symbolized the absolute end of the world according to Heather. Again. (27)

It reminded me of my husband’s existential angst regarding buying a full-sized van. When we were pregnant with #6, we were set to outgrow our minivan once he or she arrived. I was pushing hard for a Nissan NV, but my husband balked, both at the price and the prospect of driving a CAV (Catholic Assault Vehicle). We eventually compromised with the purchase of a full-size SUV (Nissan Armada) that seated 8. It’s a tight squeeze (it doesn’t have a lot of cargo space), and we have no space for extra passengers, but for now it works for us. But I still have hopes of joining the ranks of the CAV owners eventually (all that spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!).

In the meantime, if my husband gets too frisky during the fertile phase of my cycle and starts suggesting that maybe having another baby wouldn’t be a bad idea, all I have to do is whisper seductively in his ear, “Another kid means buying a full-size van.” Boom. Suddenly, abstinence is a lot easier to deal with.

Also, she includes a shout-out to working mothers, which I always appreciate in books for Catholic women:

We have to be careful that we don’t limit God’s goodness by saying that holiness and goodness must look like a, b, c, or d. That’s a mistake. Goodness can look as different as there are people on the planet. It’s God’s goodness, shining through our desire to be upright for his sake.

So for my homeschooling mamas, you are good. For the public school mamas, you are good too. For the Catholic or private school moms, it’s all good. Breastfeeding your baby? Awesome. Formula feeding? Wonderful. Combo? Mama, keep up the good work. Do you stay at home? Do you work from home? Do you work outside the home? Do you work only when you need to? Do you run 5Ks or bake sales or after your kids? Repeat after me: it is all good. (182-83).

It’s all good — and so is this book! You can purchase it at Amazon (affiliate link below), from Our Sunday Visitor, or wherever else books are sold.

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