Ann Voskamp’s debut book about the transformative spiritual discipline of gratitude, One Thousand Gifts (Zondervan, 2011), sold over one million copies according to the publisher, charted for 60 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and has been translated into 20 languages. In her second major trade book, The Broken Way (Zondervan, Oct.) she is addressing suffering, meaning, and the search for “an abundant life.”
“In the past five years while book signing and listening to people I’ve heard such painful stories,” Voskamp told PW. “I remembered their stories as I came to the page again, and I wanted to write for them—for anyone who feels abandoned, who feels broken, or who feels alone.”
The Broken Way features two main themes: brokenness and abundant wholeness. Reflecting on her daily struggles as a mother of seven children and a rural farmer, Voskamp writes in her new book, “Maybe you can live a full and beautiful life in spite of the great and terrible moments that will happen right inside of you. Actually—maybe you get to become more abundant because of those moments.”
She uses simple, earthy metaphors to illustrate complex spiritual concepts, such as the way pain can be a pathway to a more generous and fruitful life. “The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast,” she writes.
The challenge, Voskamp told PW, is in knowing how the “good brokenness” that frees you can break the “bad brokenness” that binds you and keeps you from living a full life. “Brokenness, like all ancient truths, is paradoxical,” she explained. “There is a detrimental brokenness that impedes wholeness and holistic flourishing, and there is a deeply beneficial brokenness that includes humility, vulnerability, and being ‘broken and given’—a kind of generosity.”
Being “broken and given,” Voskamp writes, refers to her past battle against perfectionism and feelings of insufficiency, which prevented her from being generous. “Why have we swallowed the lie that we can only help [others] if we’re perfect?” she asks. Taking the risk and reaching out to others in her rural community and beyond, Voskamp discovered “there is always more because God is always enough, and He makes all brokenness into abundance.”
Ultimately, The Broken Way is a “dare” to have faith in what seems useless, inferior, or broken, that it can be transformative, according to Voskamp. “I want readers to embrace the fact that wholeness and brokenness are not opposites,” she said. “We’re all desperate for connection and communion. To know we’re not alone, and that communion only comes out of brokenness—that’s the miracle.”
Despite her success as an author, Voskamp’s life hasn’t changed much—she still lives on an 800-acre farm in rural Canada with her husband, 650 pigs, and five of their seven children. “It’s a protected way to live a quiet life, with dirt under my fingernails, where I can stay real and low to the ground,” she told PW. “I don’t think our souls are meant for fame. We’re meant to give our lives away in service.”
Sandra Vander Zicht, associate publisher and executive editor at Zondervan, says Voskamp’s book is the perfect follow-up to One Thousand Gifts because “once you’ve been radically moved by gratitude, you’ll be radically moved out into the world to give back.”
Marketing and publicity plans for The Broken Way include a North American book tour that will begin with the launch in New York on October 25th and continue in Buffalo, Grand Rapids, Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Toronto, and other cities; a mainstream and Christian media campaign; and print ads in secular and Christian magazines.