I haven’t read author Emily P. Freeman’s other books, nor listened to the podcast by the same name for which this book is titled. I have been a longtime subscriber to her monthly e-mail newsletter, though, and I always appreciate the ways she shares her world so generously. I received a copy of her latest book, The Next Right Thing (TNRT) through her publisher, Revell, in exchange for my honest review.
I’m leading purposefully with the most superficial aspect of TNRT because aesthetic matters to me, particularly in the Christian publishing realm where it seems if you’re a female author, your book cover MUST have some picture of a delicate flower with a watercolor script. I adore Freeman’s choice of a monochromatic, sans-serif design for the cover. It’s a refreshing departure from the others in this category lining the shelves, and sets the stage for what is a refreshing read in general.
I am not usually drawn to books about making decisions because I thought, before reading TNRT, that I had no trouble making them. I’m not usually risk-averse and overthinking my next moves is rarely a hindrance to my day. But from the outset of TNRT, I learned that this does not a sound decision maker make. In fact, on page 14, Freeman puts me on blast: “Maybe you have an aversion to making decisions so you either delegate them, avoid them, or make them too quickly just to get them settled.” Bing bing bing. I’ve been hot potato handling my choices my whole life. I hate deliberations, so I just pull a straw and stick with it and hope I can drink out of it for as long as I need. It’s what has worked. Or I thought it had. TNRT showed me a better way. Better ways, to be sure, because what TNRT does best is come alongside the reader to examine the different facets of his/her life and see what areas need the most support and discernment and so much grace.
My favorite chapters were 8, “Know What You Want More” and 10 “Quit Something” because the ideas were the most applicable for me and I thought the writing was strongest. TNRT unpacks ideas in a way that is easy to visualize and understand, often with Freeman confessing her own shortcomings and stumbling blocks to disarm the reader from thinking this is a perfectionist’s formula. There are prayers and practices that bookend each chapter and they are thoughtfully written and I’m sure will be revisited as the ideas trade relevance in years to come.
Now that I think about it, going back to the cover again, the black and white is also unisex, and I think the messaging here is, too. Freeman does a good job of incorporating voices from women and men throughout the book. I’m not sure whether a diversity of voices is represented in terms of culture and race, but Freeman is aware when her own privilege needs to be acknowledged and I find the spirit in which she writes quite equitable. Her advice presumes that a person making big or small decisions already has some measure of agency in his/her life. Being a good steward of one’s privilege — time, resources, connections, talents — is foundational to the message of TNRT. It has definitely impressed upon me that making good decisions is a sort of act of worship in itself.