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Don't Take Your Dreams to the Grave
Arthor: Jimmie Bratcher
Jimmie Bratcher’s new book tackles the issue of discovering and following the individual dreams of the heart.  Using biblical stories and personal experiences, Jimmie’s goal is to convince the reader that God has placed a singular dream within your heart, and that there is no deeper sorrow than a life composed of unfulfilled dreams.

Bratcher has already proven himself to be a talented blues artist with a heartfelt gospel message, and while the positive message from his music can be found in his book, there are a few problems in Don’t Take Your Dreams to the Grave that keep it from being of the same level of quality that can be found in Jimmie’s music.
Bratcher’s influences are very obvious for this book.  I could sense early on that he was drawing inspiration from John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, and Bratcher openly pulls an example from Eldredge’s book in chapter two.  What made Wild at Heart such a compelling read, in comparison, was its near constant use of pop culture examples and biblical references to provide controversial and provocative philosophical and spiritual conclusions on the nature of mankind and God.  You could flip to any page within Wild at Heart, and chances are you’d find him quoting something, be it the Bible, a renowned film, or a popular artist.  Unfortunately, though Bratcher similarly uses biblical stories to provide foundations for his main points, he often settles into simple summarizing of biblical text that doesn’t provide enough meat to his message.  It doesn’t advance the point he is trying to make, and may result in frustrating readers who have to read through several pages of summary before finding Bratcher’s point. 
Blanket, empty statements are used to propel many of Bratcher’s main points—“Too often…," “More often than not…," “What I mean is…,” “Don’t misunderstand me…,” “So often we….”  They shake our confidence in the author’s message and fail to convince us that what the author is saying is truly profound and worth our consideration.  Many transitions between chapters are too apt, with Bratcher stating plainly what’s coming next.  It tugs too tightly on the flow between chapters, leaving little room for the reader to naturally think upon and consider the author’s statements in the chapter just read.  
There are other choices that have been made regarding the structure of the book that don’t feel readily explained or complimentary to the text.  A “Personal Dreams Journal” is provided at the end of each chapter—am I supposed to write my dreams on each one?  What progress am I making if I do so?  Do I relate each entry to the chapter it is connected to?  We’re never told.  This may be another influence from Wild at Heart, which concluded with a blank chapter instructing the reader to write of their own thoughts and discoveries while reading the book.  But having an entry for each chapter, as is the case in Don’t Take Your Dreams to the Grave, feels forced—the reader isn’t provided with enough food-for-thought yet to write his own entries in the earlier chapters of the book, and there’s little incentive to keep the journal later on.  
The book’s introduction is nothing more than the first few pages of chapter one, though more cleanly edited.  On the more nitpicky side—once or twice within each chapter, the author’s primary point is set off to the side of the page and printed in giant text.  Perhaps meant to catch the attention of casual readers who are flipping through the book, but for those taking the time to read each page, it’s diversionary and frustrating.    
Bratcher’s book tends to be most effective when he writes in a biographical form, sharing his personal experiences.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t do this enough.  Don’t Take Your Dreams to the Grave doesn’t measure up to the quality of this artists’ musical work, but perhaps with more consideration and experience, writing a great book may still be within Bratcher’s capability.
Jonathan Avants 12/03/05


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