Book Review (and a Giveaway!): The Struggle is Real by Nicole Unice

Posted August 27, 2018 by meezcarrie in Christian, giveaway, Nicole Unice, nonfiction / 9 Comments

about the book

GENRE: Nonfiction / Inspirational
PUBLISHER: Tyndale Momentum
RELEASE DATE: August 21, 2018
PAGES: 288

“It just shouldn’t be this hard!”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a day where everything that could go wrong does go wrong—you lock your keys in the car while it’s running, lose control with your kids, make a mistake at the office that results in hours more work. And just when you think not one more thing could possibly happen . . . well, fill in the blank.

The struggle is real, friends. It may not be major stuff. Lives are not on the line here. But it makes us feel awful . . . and then we feel guilty for stressing when other people have “real” problems that are so much more serious.

Yet the fact remains: We live in a world that often feels harder than we think it should be. And so it can be easy to believe the stories we tell ourselves—that we’re doing it wrong, that we’ll be stuck in this place forever, that God doesn’t love us. We struggle to practice gratitude, to make godly choices, and to live our daily lives with confidence and contentment. So what can we do?

Join popular Bible teacher and counselor Nicole Unice to discover why the struggle is real . . . and what to do about it. Nicole offers practical tools to help you navigate the daily ups and downs, and ways to rewrite your struggle into a new, God-centered life story. The Struggle Is Real is an invitation to take the hard, hurtful, and confusing moments and turn them into opportunities to grow in wisdom, strength, and joy.

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“It is in the honest reflection of our struggles that we will finally ask the most important question of our lives: ‘Where is Jesus in my story?'”

I use the hashtag #thestruggleisreal most often when joking about which book – out of the copious possible titles – to read next. But in all honesty the struggle IS real and it’s usually much more serious than just playing Jenga with my TBR pile. The Struggle for all of us, as Nicole Unice puts it, is “the frustrating place between who I want to be and who I actually am. The way we resolve the Struggle is by allowing God “to rewrite our stories with Jesus as the main character”, to allow Him to take that very real Struggle and use it for our good by transforming it into a transfigured story. One where everything we understood before is “reinterpreted in the light of His presence” and everything we expect for the future is “rewritten because of His love.”

Unice writes in a warm, witty, and personal style that instantly helps readers feel at home on the pages – with truth that wraps gently around our hearts while still stepping on our toes a few times (in the best possible way).  I loved the way she relates these truths to the concept of story, an idea I can certainly embrace and easily understand. Unice uses plenty of Scripture to illustrate her points, and there were many times while reading that I saw familiar texts in new ways. This is a great book to use in personal devotional time, to read straight through, or to use in small group study. The ‘Keeping It Real’ section at the end of each chapter really helps us begin to immediately apply what she is teaching.

Bottom Line: The Struggle Is Real admits out loud what so many of us try to keep to ourselves – who we are isn’t who we want to be – and then clearly shows us how to bridge that frustrating gap. Pointing to Scripture and our Savior, Unice’s writing style and teaching points are easy to relate to, understand, and apply. The journey isn’t easy, nor will be the work of honestly reflecting on our struggle and turning it over to Jesus to be transformed.  But Unice helps it feel not only attainable but absolutely worth it.

In every moment, between every line, may your new story point to Jesus, who holds every hardship and orchestrates every joy.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4.5 stars / Love it!

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about the author

Nicole Unice is a Bible teacher, author, and passionate communicator who delights in bringing God’s Word to life in a personal and relevant way. Her training as a counselor informs her work, as she emphasizes the importance of facing our own reality and embracing the transforming power of God’s grace.

Her heart belongs to Hope Church in Richmond, Virginia, where she serves as ministry director, leading discipleship and Praxis, a full-time ministry residency program for young leaders. In addition, Nicole co-hosts Hope Cast, a podcast on spiritual formation, leadership, and relationships.

Nicole’s invitations to speak have taken her across the world, and her books come to life through her popular video curriculum series found on RightNow Media. Her first book, She’s Got Issues, released in May 2012 and speaks to a fundamental question of faith: Is being a Christian supposed to change me? Also available is a companion curriculum, She’s Got Issues DVD Group Experience, a six-session journey that includes interviews, questions, and teaching expanding on the book. Her subsequent titles—Brave Enough and The Struggle Is Real—help people distill the complicated stuff of life into a simple and clear path to Jesus.

Nicole holds degrees from the College of William and Mary and from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She loves creating a space for ministry and spiritual formation in the everyday rhythms of life with three children, two pups, one husband, and a whole community of twentysomethings who regularly raid her fridge.

Nicole is known for making friends in all corners of the world, especially via social media. Connect with her on Instagram, YouTube, or at—and hopefully face-to-face at one of her upcoming events.

There’s a question we throw around that I bet means a whole lot more than we would expect. How many times a week—or a day!–are you asked:

How are you?”

I don’t know about you, but the answer I hear and give the most is something like …. ”fine”, or —“busy but good!”? It’s kind of the socially acceptable answer, right?

A friend asked me this question just this week as I walked into work. I was multitasking as usual while knee deep into a cell phone conversation about yet another problem. I didn’t answer her, because if I did—if I really stopped and answered—I might have started crying, right there on the spot. My lips formed the word “fine” when in reality, I was anything but—at least not in that moment. And life doesn’t always stop long enough to give a real answer….

But isn’t “fine” the socially accepted answer because it works….or does it?

The reality is, we are all struggling, to different degrees and complexity levels, each and every day. The Struggle IS Real, and when you add up both the little and big daily struggles, it’s easy to understand why this hashtag social media rockstar exists—over 3 million deep at #thestruggleisreal.

But if we dig a little deeper into this common complaint, we might discover a much more sinister root—and real help toward freedom and wisdom in Christ.

In my newest book, The Struggle is Real, that’s what I’ve done. I address issues like:

  • Life is much harder than I thought it would be, and I feel bad saying it.
  • There are some things about myself that I can’t change…it’s just how I am, and it frustrates me.
  • I really don’t know if God is interested in my life, and even if He is, I don’t know how to hear from Him.

(and if you are wondering how real your struggle is, I’ve included a Good Life Inventory on p. 14!)

I wrote this book because I know how real the struggle truly is—and I want us to discover the true source of the answer to these age-old problems. My hope is to take my readers through a journey into this gap between our “just fine” lives and the truly good lives we are seeking and are hungry for. To offer hope that we can live the best life we can, this side of heaven.

Yep, the struggle is definitely real. But the struggle can also start the story. It can motivate us to rewrite our lives into a new story. The struggles can lead us to a new source of hope and freedom, and somehow, even the worst of life can become a place of strength and growth. The struggle is real. And the struggle can be good.

To celebrate her tour, Nicole is giving away a grand prize of a “The Struggle is Real” T-Shirt!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click below to enter.

Click here to view this promotion.
This giveaway is hosted by Celebrate Lit, not RimSP
Follow along with the tour for more places to win!

What about you? What is a #thestruggleisreal moment for you?


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9 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): The Struggle is Real by Nicole Unice

  1. Janet Estridge

    If someone asks me how I’m feeling and if I’m having a bad day, I look at them and say, “You really don’t want to know”. A lot of people pass me in the hallway at church and I’ll say Good Morning. They respond with, Good Morning, How are You? I hear them say this as they are rushing by on their way to who knows where. If they really cared, they would stop and talk.

    • Carrie

      Oh Janet, I totally get that. We’ve become a culture of 140 characters and we don’t stop and listen to each other’s hearts anymore <3

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