I’m excited to share some book thoughts on Insights from a Prophet’s Life: Russell M. Nelson by Sheri Dew. This is a bit of an unconventional review for me because it’s a bit of an unconventional book. I like to call these reviews “book thoughts” because I am not critiquing the book in my usual way nor giving it a star ranking; rather I’m offering some thoughts about it. Books like these are unique and powerful for me as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And it’s important to me to share books that strengthen my faith.
This biography chronicles the life of President Russell M. Nelson, the current prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If you recall, I have shared a few other “book thoughts” over the years of other biographies of presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints including Thomas S Monson and Spencer W Kimball. It’s a personal goal of mine to read a biography of every church president. So far, I’ve read 3 or 17.
President Nelson became the 17th president of the church in January 2018. He has been an apostle of Jesus Christ since 1984. Before his call to the apostleship, he was a pioneer in open heart surgery completing the first successful open heart surgery in the state of Utah and saving the life of a famous opera singer in China. He and his wife Danzel have 10 children–9 girls and 1 boy (who is also the youngest!). After Danzel’s death, he married Wendy Watson in 2005.
- I loved this start to finish. Beautifully written anecdotes from President Nelson’s life. I felt the spirit strongly as I read about his preparation to become the prophet of God. I am grateful to have read this book.
- This is a physically beautiful book! I am so glad to own it!
According to Goodreads, “What kind of life preparation does the Lord give the men He will one day call to be prophet? And what are the lessons to be learned from such a life? From being raised in a home without the foundation of the gospel to the early days of his marriage and the stress of medical school to his last open-heart surgery in China, President Russell M. Nelson took advantage of every opportunity to learn and become more. In Insights from a Prophet’s Life, Sheri Dew takes us through the life of President Nelson from childhood to the current day. This unique collection of life experiences is told in short episodes from the purpose of helping readers gain their own personal insights. For if we have much to learn from what a prophet says, surely we have much to learn from how a prophet lives.”
I really enjoyed the format of this book. It’s grouped by time periods and Dew offers several poignant anecdotes that helped shape President Nelson. The stories are engaging and given without a lot of commentary. Readers are able to come to our own conclusions about the lessons that can be learned from each story. Most of the anecdotes were new to me and I loved the chance to read more about about the life of President Nelson.
The emotions in this book are raw, intense, and very relatable. President Nelson has had his share of hard times. He’s experienced death of loved ones, difficult financial situations, judgment for his beliefs, war, and lots of hard work. His pioneering efforts in open heart surgery are described in detail–including the difficult times when he couldn’t save his patients. I cried when I read about the death of his first wife. I hadn’t heard the details of that experience before. I found his experiences raising a family and balancing work/church/family life very relatable. It sounds silly, but I am often surprised men who grow up to be prophets of God are also just average people.
Most of all, I am grateful for the ways this book strengthened my testimony of President Nelson’s prophetic call. I feel that I know him better and understand where he comes from. I can also see the hand of the Lord guiding him throughout his life as he learned valuable lessons to help him become the prophet of God at this time. Grateful to have read this book!