Book Review: Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations (2016 edition), by Alex & Brett Harris

Do Hard ThingsI’ll be honest. While looking for a new book to review, I saw “Foreword by Chuck Norris” on the front cover of Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex & Brett Harris, so I had to request it. I don’t have a Total Gym®, so why not a book promoted by the roundhouse-loving Texas Ranger? I didn’t know anything about the book or the Harris brothers, but too many legendary Chuck Norris jokes were running through my head to keep my choice rational. I don’t know why I expected something more from a foreword—I do know…because it’s Chuck Norris—but the two-page intro pretty much said, “I know these kids. They’re cool. Do hard stuff. *roundhouse to the face*” Okay, so there was no kicking involved (would have been a cool flip-book animation to add to the corners of the book’s pages), but that would’ve made it better. But really, this has nothing to do with the book, so on to it.

This is the second reprint of a 2008 book written by a couple Christian teenage brothers (to Christians, but not just for Christians) who hate the word “teenager,” desire us to drop that idea from our culture, and get kids to grow up and do more. That’s cool, and I’m on board with discontinuing adolescence into our 30s in the US. However, I would encourage young folk to think more about their choices than do the authors who chastise people who discovered they were going to help a different political campaign than the one for which they signed up. Running a political campaign may be a “hard thing,” but we should think about whether or not we believe in the hard things we’re attempting. This is just one example of many, but indicative of the easily misguided nature of youth, even when they’re gung-ho about taking on challenges and doing more.

I don’t think the authors make the best of connections with Scripture and their examples, but they are (were) teenagers running with their upbringing and not so much wrestling with the real context of Scripture. These guys do want us to glorify God in all we do, and to that end I think they encourage the reader well.

In this third edition only a few stories have been added in an appendix. The brothers have not changed the original text at all, which they think is a good thing. It still reads like it’s written by teenagers, so if that’s desired, then I guess it’s a good thing. I probably would have updated it a bit and taken more care with all the non-profit organization examples that don’t really consider economic and social implications but focus more on how good the ones working in it feel when “helping” others. (I recommend When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself for those interested in non-profits and foreign aid.)

Alex’s gospel message in “Appendix A” is overly simplistic and lacking important points, but it simply stems from his faith tradition, which is expected. Again, something I would have changed.

Overall, it may be inspiring for some youth (it obviously has been for eight years), but the stories and examples may prove tedious and longwinded for some. I would have put it down after Part 1 of 3 if I’d not been committed to reviewing it.

 

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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