Book Reviews - new releases

Book Review: In Spite of Ourselves

Now available on Amazon

In Spite of Ourselves: A Murphy Brothers Book 2

By Jennifer Rodewald

Contemporary Christian Romance


Who could build a life on such a monumental mistake?

Jackson Murphy: family prankster, class clown… and now, smack in the middle of a Vegas-sized mess. All he’d wanted was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. After failing that goal, he slipped into a deep, sulking valley, only to emerge from it with a much bigger problem. He’s married. To a complete stranger! Forget making a world-class marathon so that his family will believe that (1) he’s capable of being grown up and serious on occasion and (2) he doesn’t need the ongoing pity about his brother and a certain ex-girlfriend.

Now? Now he has no idea what to do.

Mackenzie Murphy: independent woman and excellent student—but not a med student. Because those pesky MCATs were H-A-R-D. She doesn’t particularly mind that much, seeing as she’s never really wanted to be a doctor, but her mother will be…uh, displeased. Exceptionally. That’s nothing, however, compared to how Mother will respond if she finds out what else happened in Vegas.

Mackenzie wants out. Jackson wants a chance. Neither of them is prepared for what’s coming. Caught in the middle of a disaster that keeps getting bigger, they hardly dare ask: Can God take their monumental mistake and turn it into a beautiful life?

my thoughts

Again and again, Jennifer Rodewald comes up with stories that rip my heart up and put it back together, better than it was before. If she wasn’t before, she’s now on my list of top favorite authors.

I will admit, I am not a fan of stories where people marry accidentally in Vegas. This is the first story in that trope that I’ve fallen in love with. I’ve read a few others, but this one is far and beyond absolutely the best and right way to write that kind of messy, ugly story. 

There is so much beauty inserted into this ugly, messed-up scenario. What blew me away was the ending. The very, very end – I can’t give it away – but for the first time, it sold the trope for me. It sealed the wrong and the mess and the mistake that were made. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.

I adored the characters. So, so much. So likable in the midst of their mistakes.

I thought the pacing was genius. The first 1/4 of the book just sucks you in with the happy, goofy silliness of our hero. It made you want to root for them to succeed. It made you want to hope. And then the rest of the story just broke my heart over and over and over again. 

But I love tearjerkers – They make the best stories. Also it’s kind of my MO – as my editor once posted that my first book was the saddest book she’s read ha.

I will admit I haven’t cried this much in a book in over a decade. I cried sad tears. I cried such happy, happy tears. The last time I cried so much while reading a book was when I read My Girl in high school. 

The beauty in this story is the same you’ll find in many of Rodewald’s stories. The incredible way she paints the picture of Christ’s love for us. The incredible parallels she creates just astounds me every time.

And the message of this book overall – how God loves still and always will love us – in spite of ourselves, in spite of our ugliness, our messy lives, our stupidity. I picked up that message early on from this quote and from that point on I was a wreck.

“I don’t go to church to celebrate my goodness. I go to worship His. Because I believe God makes messes into something beautiful in spite of ourselves.”

Not because I’ve messed up so much in my own life. But because this entire world is a mess. All around me, all I see is a disaster. Violence, civil unrest, intense political division, anger, hate, malice – and messy, messy lives. 

Yet God, in all of His glory, I do believe loves this world. I read something from Phil Wickham’s instagram about a new song he posted, and it reminded me again, because we need to be reminded every day – that Jesus’ life was counter-cultural.  Everything he did went against our very nature, our very culture. That was never more apparent than in this book. Our culture says, run when it gets too hard. Our culture says, sweep your mistakes under the rug. Our culture says, ditch the problem before it becomes worse.

But God says Stand. Stay. Fight. Love regardless. Love Always.

That… is the beauty in this book. A depiction of God’s love for us. 

More about Jennifer Rodewald

Jennifer Rodewald / J. Rodes lives on the wide plains somewhere near the middle of Nowhere. A coffee addict, pickleball enthusiast, and storyteller, she also wears the hats of mom, teacher, and friend. Mostly, she loves Jesus and wants to see others fall in love with Him too.

She would love to hear from you! Please visit her at or at

other Rodewald books I’ve reviewed

The Red Rose Bouquet / Ordinary Snowflakes  / Blue Columbine: Coming Soon

2 Comments on “Book Review: In Spite of Ourselves

Comments are closed.