1. Introduction (1 paragraph)
Write a brief introduction to the book. In one or two sentences, state the purpose of the book (what Buechner intended to do). State whether or not you found the author successful in his purpose. The review that follows should support your initial evaluation.
2. Biographical Statement (1 paragraph)
Give a brief statement about the author. This section should have 3-6 sentences. Do not give a running list of the other books he has written or the awards he’s earned. Biographical and academic data are usually included on the book jacket or you may find such information on the internet. This data along with the author’s ideas and more personal background can be found in interviews. It may be useful to describe what you learned about his life or his responses in interviews about writing or faith or family that you find fascinating or compelling as you read his work. It may be useful to describe the author’s academic training and to note how the author’s work and experience have prepared him to write this book.
3. Content Summary and Overview (1/2 page)
Explain the content of the book and comment on its organization. Do not list or restate chapter titles. This technique is seldom helpful and creates drudgery for a reader. Briefly summarize the content and how the author structured or organized it so that your professor will know what can be found in this book. Consider narration Reflect here upon how the organization of the book attempts to help achieve the author’s larger purpose (which you stated in your intro).
4. Evaluation, Reflection, and Value (at least 3 pages, probably 3-4 pages, here you may go to 4-5 pages)
This section is the most important part of your review. Give a careful, close reading and evaluation of the book. Attempt to think creatively about the book. Be specific. I am not expecting or wanting you to read other reviews of this book. I want you to read it and tell me your thoughts about it after having read most of the Biblical stories upon which this is based.
a) Understanding Buechner’s point of view and what the author was trying to communicate:
• Describe themes and explain how Buechner developed major ideas or characters, communicated important values, or invited you, the reader to active reflection.
• How does Buechner use the genre of fiction to communicate a broader message and argument?
• What value does this fictional account provide that the Biblical account does not? For instance, consider powerful language and images, the significance of the title or what we can better imagine or learn about particular characters (including God) or ancient Israel.
• Describe strengths of the book.
• Explain at what points the content was weak or could be challenged.
b) What did the book communicate to you?
• Explore and evaluate the purpose of the book and whether the author achieved it. Were you convinced by its message? If so, in what way?
• What new insight(s) did you gain?
• What value does the book hold for you and is it different from what the author seems to intend? (Did it reaffirm or stretch or challenge your beliefs or views?) In what ways might this book be valuable for others or other particular audiences?
A strong book review will include elements of both positive affirmation and measured criticism.