Review: On the Bright Side

Brooke Young Sparks reviews "On the Bright Side" by Melanie Shankle.

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On the Bright Side: Stories about Friendship, Love, and Being True to Yourself

By Melanie Shankle (Zondervan)

Somewhere between decoding the current fashion trends at Target and allowing a child to make and learn from their mistakes, wisdom and hope spring forth in On the Bright Side: Stories about Friendship, Love, and Being True to Yourself, leaving readers laughing, crying, and biting their lips.

Melanie Shankle allows readers to travel through her mishaps, first as a child of the 1980s working at a record store and continuing with her 462-step anti-aging routine at nearly age 50. The book is filled to the brim with personal stories and life lessons about how looking through the lens of “the bright side” can change our perspective and remind us of what really matters.

A Southeast Texas girl and graduate of Texas A&M University, Shankle is delightfully forthcoming, drawing her followers in with “cat in the freezer” tales of epic proportions. One reading likely will entice you to re-read it and buy it for all your friends.

Each chapter opens with pithy quotes taken anywhere from the Bible to Gianni Versace. She leads into Chapter 5, “Believing in Ever After,” by quoting her husband: “Marriage is kind of like being a member of a street gang. You pretty much have to die to get out easily.” This type of relatable humor weaves its way throughout all 16 chapters. Shankle also uses biblical illustrations to point us to the God who turns what the enemy meant for evil into something good.

At a mere 213 pages, this book is well suited for a day at the beach, or a Dallas-to-Atlanta flight, or—during these days of stay-at-home orders—sitting in the bathtub hiding from your kids. Shankle finishes each chapter by highlighting things on her own bright side list—from seeing an Amazon package on her front doorstep to the more pressing matter of watching her child do the right thing when she doesn’t know mom is paying attention.

Light on spirituality, heavy on heart and humor, On the Bright Side comes highly recommended for a little pick-me-up while hunkered down with your “quaran-team.” You’ve never laughed so hard from your back porch.

Brooke Young Sparks, student

Dallas Theological Seminary 

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