I love reading autobiographical tales of how someone overcame incredible odds and found new purpose in life. In Against All Odds, Joe Tarasuk tells a personal tale of his life as an addict, a drug dealer, a felon, a reformed, co-dependent ex-con, and finally his work to open a new residential recovery program, Crossroads Freedom Center in Ijamsville, Maryland. Tarasuk had felt the reality of the spiritual world for quite some time before his conversion to Christianity. He also felt God’s protection along the way, even when his life was still in shambles. But his experience of blessing and his eventual wholeness comes as he meets Jesus and grows in faith in Him
This is an incredible story and good example of how God’s grace can operate in the muck and murkiness of our life. I commend Tarasuk’s story and applaud his leadership and work with those in his substance abuse recovery program. I also appreciated that while his conversion story and faith journey is dramatic, =Tarasuk knows the pain from his journey. He watched his first wife die from an addiction related incident and he walked with her faihtfully for years. This is not a Pollyanna-come-to-Jesus-and everything-is-immediately-fixed kind of narrative, though Tarasuk’s rhetoric sounds like that at times. To be sure, there are aspects of his story which are incredible, his thirty-five year sentence for drug trafficking is forgiven after eighteen months served, and through the ordeal he befriends law enforcement officers. That testifies to the work of God in his life.
So if I give this book a slightly lower grade, it isn’t because I don’t like Tarasuk or his story. I just wish this was written better. At times this book feels tedious and repetitive. At other points it seemed a little self aggrandizing. I think Tarasuk’s story should be told but this book deserved tighter prose and a keen editorial eye. I give this book three stars.
Thank you to the SpeakEasy for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.