Permission to Speak Freely: Book Review & Giveaway

After reading Mad Church Disease earlier this year I eagerly anticipated Anne Jackson’s latest book, Permission to Speak Freely.

Once again, Jackson is tackling a topic within the church today that’s not getting much coverage. This time instead of showing how the church asks too much, she’s pointing out that it doesn’t ask enough.

In May of 2008, Jackson asked the readers at,

“What is one thing you feel you can’t say in the church.”

She then complied some of the hundreds of responses she received into a beautifully broken piece of literature. As you turn the pages of the book you’re met with one confession after another.

The purpose of this book is simple: to share the confessions I’ve received from the website or through the mail, as well as stories from my own life and experience, to show you that you’re not alone in your battle with fear and secrets.


Growing up I never thought about the eccentricities that made my family unique. My assumption was that all families pretty much ran the way mine did. It wasn’t until I started dating Josh that I began to see that not every family is the same. There are different ways of doing things.

I grew up in the church. Here too, I never really questioned much. The topics of sex, depression, pornography, divorce, and doubts with God were not appropriate topics for sermons. Maybe once a year one of these topics would come up, but as with the annual tithe sermon the pastor tried to get through it as quickly, and apologetically, as possible.

In the last few years I’ve begun to recognize the importance of getting these struggles out into the open. Paul says in Ephesians 5:11-13, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.”

We need to begin to bring these unfruitful deeds into the light to help people come out of the darkness to realize they’re not alone.


Anne Jackson isn’t looking to provide a self-help book that tells you how to start talking about these topics. She’s just talking about them herself…and she’s providing a place for others to start their own discussion.

I loved that she didn’t wrap it up neatly in the end.

She leaves you hanging, she leaves you responsible.

Each time we decide to take a step away from fear, we begin to move forward into a life completely energized and right in the freedom God has for us. And as we take more steps into freedom, our actions have the power to set other on that same course of freedom as well.

Only you can give yourself permission.

Not me. Not this book.

Not the church, whether you go to one or not.

Only you can give yourself the permission to speak freely.


This book touched on a topic that is close to my heart and I loved Anne Jackson’s handling of the topic. My copy is all marked up, but I want to give one away.

So, I’m going to buy one for one of my readers.

I’ve never done a giveaway before, but I feel like this book has a lot to say on an important topic.

I’m not doing this to grow readership and I’m not guilting you into it by making you sign up for my blog or follow me on Twitter. You can if you want, but it won’t gain you more entries.

Just leave a comment below by midnight PST Thursday 9/9 stating that you’d like the book and I will randomly pick a winner and announce it on Friday’s blog post.

**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

33 thoughts on “Permission to Speak Freely: Book Review & Giveaway

    1. Hey Jason, I saw on Prudy’s post that you reviewed it too…heading over to see what you had to say! And you’re right, this is an important book.

    1. I appreciate you taking the time to comment here! Your book was both visually beautiful and poignantly touching! I especially loved that idea of the Gift of Going Second. :) Thanks for once again pointing a finger at a issue the church needs to address.

  1. I always love your book reviews Melissa! Once again you have inspired me to go out and buy a book! But I will wait this time to see if I win it..:) You are great..and your heart for the Lord is REALLY great! Love ya!

  2. Wow. I’ve never left a comment before… at least I don’t think I have. But after reading your review, I want to read this new book and hopefully win one! I am a book lover. I have books that are dear to my heart, some that were gifts, childhood favorites, parenting books; oh and ones that I thought were inspirational to only have them be left unread and collect dust. One day I will get to them, I hope. But I think I would actually read this one!
    To be free and to allow others to be speak freely is healing and where Jesus would want us to be… in the light, unshamed and totally loved.
    Thank you for the opportunity to share!

    1. Caryn,

      This book is so good! I hope you win too…of course I hope everyone wins. Haha! Like you, I have a stack of books right now that are my “must-reads” and they’re very dusty. I’m glad I picked this one first. What I loved about this one was that Anne Jackson wasn’t trying to convince me that she’s got it all figured out. She was just saying that this is an issue and we need to address it. Then she “goes first” by publicly confessing the areas in her life that were/are sin. She talks about the Gift of Going Second in her book and then she lives it out through her writing.

      Glad you commented & good luck!

  3. Uh, that would be unashamed… not unshamed. I suppose it might work. Being free in His light is not a sham.

  4. I have been wanting to get my hands on this book…and you know what? Your message came at a good time. A really good time because I was doubting speaking my own failures and struggles this week. It’s a bit scary being vulnerable, isn’t it?

    And while God has 100% of my heart and trials, He still gave us a voice to give wings of hope to others as we share our struggles.

    1. Melissa,

      I love that you’re sharing your failures and struggles this week, because they’re helping me to know I’m not alone. That’s what Anne talks about in her book. It’s getting the ball rolling and helping others to feel safe sharing what they view as shameful and terrible in their lives. We all are failures at something and the reality of it is that only in Jesus Christ are we acceptable to approach the throne of God. It helped me to realize that I need to get my eyes off myself and onto Him. Stepping out in the freedom of knowing that regardless of how caught I feel in my sin and how worried I am that others will find out, God is able to overcome any situation in my life.

      BTW, I loved your post today and anyone reading this comment should click on Melissa’s name and check out her series on Anger this week!

  5. Sounds like a wonderful book. I’ve read Mad Church Disease and it’s so honest and real. Sounds like that same quality is shining through in this one. Thanks Melissa!

    1. Jason,

      This would be a great book for one of your book clubs. The essays are interesting and Anne has such a natural way of writing. It’s like you’re sitting down talking with her. As much as I liked Mad Church Disease, I feel like this one is even better. :)

    1. I have far too many books on my reading list…and it grows almost daily. That’s why I love giveaways and the BookSneeze program. :) Just hoping to bless others in the way I’ve been blessed. Haha! Good luck! :)

  6. Melissa:
    Great write-up of Anne’s book. I am definitely going to have to go get this one.

    Her whole attitude of handing the responsibility over to the reader is just….right. Love it.

    Thanks for stopping by Tyler’s blog. It was fun to see a comment from a familiar avi. :-)

    1. I’ve been feeling a little jaded lately because people keep telling me about this or that “must-read” book that changed their life. What I loved about Anne’s book was that she flat out said this book would not change your life. It’s up to God & us to make that change. No one else. Love it!

      I really liked what you had to say about mentoring on Tyler’s blog. I think frequently people go into it for all the wrong reasons, and that is not helpful for the mentee. You had some great insights to share. :)

  7. melissa,

    i would love to enter for the book. . .my fiance admitted struggling with pornography and then ran away from me and the Lord. he has yet to come clean with many others, and i am praying my heart out for him that the Lord will bring him freedom from the chains of pornography. i think his shame and lack of being able to talk about it openly in the church and with other believers has made everything so much worse and contributed to his ‘need’/compulsion to run. even if i don’t win, i am going to order this book asap. . .

    thanks for sharing!!!

    1. LS, I’m so sorry that I didn’t get back to you right away about this. I know what it’s like to share something vulnerable about yourself and receive silence in return…so don’t think this was intentional. I appreciate you sharing your story here and I’ve been praying for you and your fiance.

      There are so many circumstances that would benefit from being openly addressed with our church family. Instead the shame that is usually associated with those situations is enhanced by the feeling that you have no one to turn to. I hope that you have a counselor, pastor or close friend who is walking through this with you. I’m know that feelings of rejection can accompany this situation; your fiance running away from you would only compound the lies the enemy will throw at you. In addition to this book, which is great but doesn’t specifically address the situation, I looked into it and here’s a great site for women dealing with this issue:

      Praying for you as you walk forward in this, and praying for freedom for your fiance.

  8. i’ve got the book, so i’m not entering, but i just wanted to second the opinion that this is a great book. i love that it didn’t give us “answers” or that is wasn’t a “how to”. we already have the answer. we already know what is right. Great review Melissa. you really highlighted some key points from the book. and i loved the synopsis of the previous book being on the church asking to much and this one about its not asking enough… very clever;)

  9. I always love to read your blogs. I value your opinions, honesty, and transparency so much. This is specifically a subject that interests me, and I am glad that more conversation is beginning on many of the topics that you mentioned. Thanks for saying it like it is. Enter me in the drawing, please!

  10. Hey, I’m up ;) ha. And having coming over tonight and asking about it…hey why not enter!
    You do a great job ministering to people through this blog. way to go stay at home Mom!

    1. I was wondering why you were asking if you hadn’t entered. But I’d already told Judah he could borrow my marked up copy. You can use it too if you don’t win. :) Thanks for the encouragement and for all you do to help me not go crazy as a stay at home mommy. :) You’re the best!!

  11. OK, so it’s true… I stalk your blog. :) And this was too good of an offer to pass up… I would LOVE to check out this book! So I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for the next hour and 22 minutes. Thanks for writing – I am always challenged by what you have to say. Keep it up!

    1. I love me some stalkers…blog stalkers, I mean. The other kind are creepy. Can you tell it’s very late and night and I’m very kooky? I probably shouldn’t be up writing a blog post while I’m waiting for this giveaway deadline. Haha! If you’re still awake at 12:10 am, you’ll know if you won. Miss seeing you Erin…I think I’ve doubled my family size since the last time. Ha!

  12. Oh! I’ve heard so much about this book and all the reviews keep making me want to read it. Definitely looks good and I love that she added that reminder at the end that only we can give ourselves that permission. :)

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