Westbow Press (2015)
Reviewed by Josh Cramer for Reader Views (05/17)
Jess Archer’s exploration of her and her dad’s lives, which she sandwiches between the song, “Blackbird” by The Beatles, was very enjoyable. As I read “Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Billy Graham,” I tried to reflect on the words of this song—the “broken wings”—“waiting for the moment to arise.” And you see it—you see how her story reflects these words so well. This is one of things I enjoy about memoirs—every author has a story to tell. Jess pulls her threads together to form a pretty coherent view of her and her dad’s lives. However, it is very easy to wonder how each thread came together–how her father, as messed up as his life was, not only came to Christ but also came to be a leader in the Billy Graham organization. And then, you see it—the threads that God used to pull his life together. How God used Bob Dylan and The Beatles to minister in a way that traditional Christian music would never have worked. You see through his life the grace of God and the fact that God calls whom He calls. That through his “broken wings,” he learns to fly—to arise. It is amazing to see this culminate when Bono, yes that Bono, prays for Archer’s father.
As Jess continues into her life story, though the circumstances are different, you see the same grace. She always felt as in his shadow, “I grew up thinking that my father was famous because his favorite music was famous and so was his boss. And somewhere in the middle was my life and my longing for a sense of home” (114). How the story of her search for home plays out, though, is a journey—Jess Archer paints a vivid picture of her life searching for a home and how different and lonely she felt in so many places; it is so easy to relate to her struggles to fit into each new city and each new country. In the end, though, she comes to realize that she is just like her father—helping people to Christ is home for her. She has also risen, though her wings were broken.
Archer’s story is another testimony to the power of prayer and faith and that people don’t have to follow a certain path to be blessed. She shows us that God isn’t confined to certain types of music. He can use whatever He needs to draw people to him.
The only reason I give the book a 4 instead of 5 star rating is that at times the book transitions between histories and stories oddly. However, if you are at all interested in a great memoir that also shows you the inside of the Billy Graham Crusade, you won’t be disappointed with “Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Billy Graham,” by Jess Archer. And you may even mend your own broken wings.