I love the idea of friendships. As such, a book that offers good insights into nurturing deep and healthy friendships is always a winner for me, even more so one that purposefully draws from biblical wisdom.

So you can imagine how my face lit up when I received a marketing email from a trusted publishing house about a new book on friendship they had just released – Real : The surprising secret to deeper relationships, by Catherine Parks.

I might as well have come up with the book’s subtitle, as I found the secret it offers to deeper relationships quite surprising indeed!

Watching the short video clip included in the email promo, I knew it was a book I would enjoy reading. In fact right there and then I saved an almost blank draft, bearing the book title alone, of the book recommendation I knew was coming. Never mind that I hadn’t placed an order for the book or even added it to my shopping basket just yet. Shortly after, I got the book and leapt in right away!

Parks writes with authenticity, as she shares her experience of journeying from superficial friendships to soul-baring, life-giving ones. Some attributes that featured in her pursuit of change were intentionality and dissatisfaction with ‘the current state of affairs’. Realising the irony of wanting depth without opening up, closeness while keeping her distance, she gradually began to uncover the secret to deeper relationships – Repentance and being real with oneself, others and most fundamentally with God. In seven short chapters, the author explores the dynamics and practicality of  what being real in each of those three areas looks like. Each chapter closes with a handful of helpful questions and ideas that help readers process thoughts in a personal way.

In Real, we get a glimpse of what true repentance looks like, as modelled by the bible character David. A chapter is devoted to this, highlighting the depth of David’s otherwise unassuming confession in Psalm 5 1, and the deep joy he experiences as a result of turning away from sin and turning to God.

The book’s compact size and the author’s engaging writing style lend it as an easy and enjoyable read. Throughout its one hundred and fifty pages, Parks maintains a sharp focus on the gospel, and the bright hope it offers.

In a world of picture-perfect images and endless filters, authenticity is rare, rarer still is the idea of real friendships. Yet all hope is not lost. If you long for the kind of friendship where you can let your guard down, and not have to constantly manage perception, then Parks has some practical wisdom to pass along.

I missed posting this as the book recommendation for last month, but it’s never too late to pick up a good book to read. I hope you do.

Thanks for reading!

Sike Osinuga

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