Kari Kampakis. Liked: Whose Approval Are You Living For? Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016. See here to buy the book.
In Liked: Whose Approval Are You Living For?, Kari Kampakis offers teenage girls advice in this social media age. Among the topics that she address are the difference between online and person-to-person friendships, how to handle one’s desire for fame on social media, how to conduct oneself on social media, the importance of being kind to people and reaching out to them in person, appreciating one’s own uniqueness, and how to cope with rejection. The advice that she offers is helpful, not only for teenage girls, but for others looking for a helpful repertoire in life.
Most of the chapters open with a story or case-study, and the stories were engaging and relatable. They presented people who were dealing with insecurity, rejection, or social challenges in reaching out to people; a person who confused love of God with a desire for personal fame; and a person who was in a clique that squashed individuality and encouraged members to ostracize someone, yet brought its members acclaim among their peers.
In a number of chapters, Kampakis had lists of recommended strategies, on such topics as social media habits, handling relationships, dealing with rejection, cultivating one’s faith, and serving others. At the end of many of the chapters are questions. Many of the questions are about how the respondent feels and why, but some of them are case-studies that offer multiple-choice options on how to respond to a situation. On these latter questions, Kampakis identifies what she believes are the appropriate responses.
A theme that recurs throughout the book is God’s unconditional love. Kampakis says that God loves us, even though God knows what we are really like, and she encourages people to be charitable towards others, with their flaws. That is an encouraging picture of God. It is helpful, in a world of so much judgment and rejection, to believe that God is accepting. Does it square with everything that the Bible says about God? I struggle with that, but I agree that Kampakis presents a compelling picture of God and a relationship with God.
Kampakis encourages people to reach out to others, but she is also sensitive, on some level, to the reality that some people are shy or introverted, or fear rejection. Her advice takes that into account, and she encourages people to be kind to others, even if they remain unnoticed. She sometimes offers specific tips on social interaction: compliment a person, ask a person for advice if that person excels at something, be willing to help others, etc. I think that the book would have been better had it offered more social tips, such as advice on where and how to make friends, or how to approach people without turning them off. Often, Kampakis seemed to assume that Christians’ bubbly, joyful personality would attract people, but that assumption strikes me as too optimistic, or at least as too much of a generalization. Kampakis makes a valid point when she describes why Christians should be hopeful—-because they see the sufferings of this life as temporary—-but I would respond that there are people who may try to believe in Christian doctrine yet struggle to have hope, let alone convey a hopeful attitude towards others.
I will add that what Kampakis says about her children in the Acknowledgments is beautiful.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. My review is honest!